‘Downton Abbey’ Season Three Debuts In The UK With 8.6 Million Viewers

The third season of the popular British period drama Downton Abbey exploded out of the gate with 8.6 million viewers, according to The Hollywood Reporter. When you factor in the folks who caught the show one hour later on ITV1+1, the show brought in nearly 9 million viewers. It would appear that this season is off to a very good start.

At one point during the episode, an estimated 9.6 million people in Britain were watching Downton Abbey. THR states that this accounts for 34.6 percent of the population. “With an average audience of 8.1 million viewers between [7pm and 10:30p,], ITV1 was the highest rating channel in peak by more than 3 mlllion viewers,” the network said in a statement.

The Mirror was quick to point out that, despite the show’s strong debut, it was still down a bit from last year. Although Downton Abbey is seemingly on track to deliver strong ratings, viewership is still down a bit from last season; the first episode of the 2011 series reportedly peaked with 10.4 million viewers. Fewer people may have tuned in for the premiere, but the house that the Crawley clan built is apparently doing quite well.

Not only were the ratings in place, reviews for the third season of Downton Abbey have been fairly positive. “This felt like a programme back to its best, the one we fell in love with back in 2010. The script was tight; the detail was there,” The Telegraph explained. The review also had nothing but positive things to say about newcomer Shirley MacLaine, describing her performance as a “masterclass in how to command an audience.”

According to the Daily Mail, Downton Abbey generated nearly double the amount of viewers as the BBC1 drama Inspector George Gently. The program, a detective drama set in the 60s, enjoyed an estimated 4.3 million viewers.

Presently, the third season of Downton Abbey is slated to air in the US this January on PBS.