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Downton Abbey beats Spooks in Sunday night ratings

Downton Abbey

Story by Jack Foley

EMMY winning ITV drama Downton Abbey comfortably beat Spooks in the Sunday night ratings war, generating twice as many viewers.

An estimated 9.3 million people tuned in to see the second series debut of Julian Fellowes’ popular costume drama, compared to the 4.6 million who tuned in for the first episode of the final series of the long-running BBC spy drama.

At its peak, 9.9m people watched the first 15 minutes of Downton Abbey, according to overnight figures.

Downton Abbey – which won four Emmys on Sunday including best mini-series and best supporting actress for Dame Maggie Smith – had been expected to triumph when the two shows were pitched against each other.

The first series was a massive ratings winner for ITV when it first aired last September with a similar 9.24m viewers, peaking at 10.77m for its final episode in November.

But the BBC was confident Spooks would perform well, stating: “Downton and Spooks are very different shows and offer a real alternative for audiences.

“This is the last ever series of Spooks and we wanted to celebrate this and make it a special event for viewers in the Sunday 9pm slot.”

Read our review of Downton Abbey’s Season 2 opener