Howards End kicked off on BBC One on Sunday night, becoming one of the channel’s highest rated drama launches this year. The period drama, which stars Agent Carter’s Hayley Atwell as Margaret Schlegel, opened with 6.8M overnight viewers in a 9 PM slot on the UK public broadcaster. The show will likely air on U.S premium cable network Starz in early 2018.

This is well ahead of the channel’s average for the slot, which is around 5M.

To put it into context, the E.M Forster adaptation, which is produced by Colin Callender’s Playground Entertainment, was well ahead of other BBC One dramas that launched this year including Strike, the Cinemax co-production based on the JK Rowling novel, which opened with 5.5M and Nazi-themed drama SS-GB, which launched with 6.1M viewers in February.

It drew a similar audience to Rowling’s previous adaptation, HBO co-production The Casual Vacancy, which launched in February 2015.

The figures, provided by the BBC, make it one of the most-watched dramas of the year, behind shows such as Call The Midwife, Sherlock and Line of Duty.

Howards End, which was written by Manchester By The Sea writer/director Kenneth Lonergan, follows the story of two independent and unconventional sisters, and the men in their lives, as they seek love and meaning in an ever-changing world.

However, the four-part series, which continues next Sunday, couldn’t compete with two non-scripted juggernauts on BBC One. Blue Planet II, David Attenborough-narrated wildlife documentary, scored 11M viewers, while Strictly Come Dancing, the show that ABC’s Dancing With The Stars is based on, waltzed off with 10.7M viewers.