Downton Abbey opens its doors to lowest audience since 2010

Last night's episode of the ITV period drama was the least watched series opener since its first - but maintained a healthy proportion of the viewing audience

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Downton Abbey made a return to our screens last night as the year 1924 bought with it a worrying new socialist government. Ratings-wise too, the times appear to have changed, with the episode becoming the least watched series opener since the ITV period drama began in 2010.

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The 90-minute instalment was seen by 8.43 million viewers, a drop of over a million compared with last year’s 9.51 million and the lowest since 7.69 million tuned in for the first ever Downton Abbey in 2010.

But while the headline numbers may have fallen, overnight figures show that Downton maintained an impressive 38% share of the audience watching in its 9pm-10:30pm slot, comparable with previous years.

Downton saw some new competition for the first hour from BBC1’s Afghanistan Army drama Our Girl starring Lacey Turner, which drew 3.91 million viewers following its well-received one-off episode last year. 

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Downton Abbey continues on Sundays at 9pm