Downton Abbey hits highest ratings for series but Strictly stays on top


Downton Abbey's last episode before its Christmas special soared to a ratings high for the series, but Strictly Come Dancing continued to waltz all over the competition.

The ITV drama, which featured a suicide attempt and a wedding, drew an overnight average of 8.9 million on Sunday when viewers watching on ITV +1 were included. The share of the total TV audience was 39.1%.

The figure excluding ITV +1 was 8.45 million.

Downton secured its highest audience since November 10 2013, when it averaged 10 million and a 40.6% share.

The multi-award-winning series, which has captivated the nation since 2010, will return for its grand finale at Christmas.

Despite the Crawleys and their servants going out on a high, BBC One's ballroom show, which aired its results show at 7.15pm, reigned supreme on Sunday.

An average of 10.4 million viewers watched as the show said goodbye to BBC Breakfast's Carol Kirkwood, who became the sixth celebrity voted out of the series.

The show, which also hit a series high, secured 43% of the total TV audience.

On a good night for the BBC, rural magazine series Countryfile was among the most-watched with 7.08 million viewers.

Despite climbing to its best result in nearly a month, ITV's The X Factor could not match its BBC rival. On Sunday, the singing competition's results show featured a double elimination.

Flamboyant Australian Seann Miley Moore and Liverpudlian singer Kiera Weathers departed with an average 7.2 million viewers watching, a share of 29.6% over the 8pm hour.

The figure excluding those watching on ITV +1 was 6.98 million.

On Saturday night, The X Factor managed only 6.5 million including those watching on ITV +1. The share was 31.5% of the total TV audience.

During the show, judges Simon Cowell, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw watched their acts sing live to impress the voting public.

Meanwhile, BBC One's Strictly continued with an average of 9.2 million and a share of 44.2%. An energetic Charleston by singer Peter Andre was among the highlights. 

Despite losing to Strictly once again in the ratings, Cowell can take heart from the better performance of X Factor's Sunday night ratings.

On August 30, the ITV singing show's first Sunday broadcast aired to an average of only 5.94 million viewers, not including fans watching on ITV +1.

In an attempt to avoid the two series clashing, ITV published episode times for X Factor right up until the final in December.

However, the two shows are set to coincide over the coming weeks.