ITV1 unshackled its returning heavyweight on Sunday night and claimed its highest audience figures for a drama since the start of 2012.
Series 3 of Downton Abbey debuted with 9m (36%) viewers last night, only slightly down on 2011’s Series 2 opener. The period drama, which has added Shirley MacLaine to its already star-studded cast, easily beat Inspector George Gently on BBC One, which attracted 4.3m (16.5%) viewers for the final episode of its current run.
On Saturday evening Doctor Who ensnared its biggest overnight audience in over two years as 6.6m (29.1%) companions hopped aboard the TARDIS for A Town Called Mercy.
The consolidated figures for Dinosaurs on a Spaceship provided more good news as it added over 2m viewers, a bigger time shift than Asylum of the Daleks, and recorded a total of 7.5m viewers once those who had recorded the show and watched it later had been taken into account.
Saturday evening also saw a more muted, yet just as manipulative, Malcolm Tucker pop up for the first time in Series 4 of The Thick of It. The second episode was seen by 1.1m (5.2%) viewers, only slightly down on the first episode last week.
Watch the trailer for A Town Called Mercy…
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