The final episode of Downton Abbey‘s six-season run well outperformed the competition last night on what was an overall slow Christmas evening for UK TV viewing. Downton‘s farewell scored 6.9M viewers for a 28.6 share on ITV in the overnights; a figure that will see a big bump in L+7s. British television is generally packed with specials and favorite series on Christmas Day, but this was the lowest-rated December 25 since 2009.
BBC One’s most watched Christmas Day program was Strictly Come Dancing at 6.5M viewers beginning at 6:15PM. Doctor Who‘s special episode aired early at 5:15PM, scoring 5.8M. Below that was long-running BBC soap EastEnders which went head-to-head with the Crawley family at 8:45PM, picking up 5.7M viewers. (On the whole day, the Queen’s Christmas message was actually the most-watched with 6.1M on BBC One and 1.3M on ITV in the mid-afternoon.)
Downton concluded its final season with an average 10.4M consolidated viewers over the first eight episodes. The Christmas episode this year was up sharply from last year‘s 5.84M viewers after the regular season’s finale went out on a two-year high with 8.8M and a 39 share.
Exec producer Gareth Neame recently told me of this last visit to the Grantham Estate, “I think people have found it very satisfying how stories have been tied up. We achieved all expectations. A lot of people feel it’s the best season ever. That’s rewarding.” Season 6 begins airing Stateside on January 3.