In what was touted recently as one of the bigger UK fictional tv ratings battles of the year, the premiere of the final season of BBC spy drama Spooks lost out to ITV1′s period drama Downton Abbey last night in a viewing figures whitewash. BBC reports that 9.3 million people tuned in to watch the premiere of Downton’s second series compared to 4.6 million, way less than half of the viewers, who saw BBC’s Spooks. During Downton Abbey’s peak the show was attracting 9.9 million people, though by the time the 90 minute episode had ended 1.3 million of those had gone to sleep or switched over to something else.

Downton Abbey of course had the benefit of having insanely popular reality t.v. show The X-Factor as it’s lead-in which attracted a 11.5 million audience.

All in all it was a great night for Downton Abbey as it walked home with four Emmy’s on Sunday including gongs for Best Mini-Series and Best Supporting Actress for Dame Maggie Smith.

For Spooks the rating was somewhat depressing considering that it previously aired on a weekday to an average of six million viewers and the Sunday night slot was seen as a more valued position!

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This article was first posted on September 19, 2011