Millions of Downton fans left reeling

Published Tuesday, 16 October 2012
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Nearly 10 million people tuned in to the hit period drama Downton Abbey on Sunday night - only to be left reeling by what was to unfold.

Millions of Downton fans left reeling
Downton Abbey's Lady Sybil Crawley. (© ITV)

*Watch our video of Downton newcomers, footmen Alfred and Jimmy and kitchenmaid Ivy.

If you haven't seen the latest episode and still plan to catch up on the UTV Player, you may want to avert your eyes now to avoid a bombshell of a spoiler that had fans in an emotional meltdown!

Viewers were surely expecting future drama for the Crawley family over youngest daughter Lady Sybil and her eyebrow-raising marriage to Irish chauffeur-turned-journalist Tom Branson.

But, despite the hard realities of the time, complications during her pregnancy seemed to blindside fans - especially when the baby was eventually delivered safely, even amid the tense health scare.

A top specialist and the old family doctor had been at each other's throats over the possibility of pre-eclampsia and the family were divided on whose opinion should be more valued.

Yet the relief all round when the baby girl arrived was to be short-lived.

Taking a turn for the worse in the middle of the night, Lady Sybil was found more distressed than ever - confused, struggling to breathe and suffering seizures. As her family watched in horror, the doctors could finally agree on something.

There was nothing that could be done.

Fans on Twitter were quick to express shock, disbelief and sadness and, while an average of 9.5 million people were watching, the show hit a peak of 10.4 million.

While the X Factor did peak higher with 11.7 million tuning in, the average figures make Downton the most popular show of last Sunday.

Back on screen, and the news was broken to the rest of the house in scenes that were just as emotional as what was going on upstairs.

The servants, who had only gone to bed after waiting up for news of the baby's arrival, were gathered in stunned silence to hear the tragic news from Carson and Mrs Hughes.

Even Thomas, who worked with Lady Sybil in the makeshift hospital during the war, had to shed a tear for one of the few people who had been kind to him.

There have been plenty of testing times of late for the Crawley family, so the new additions to staff - new kitchenmaid Ivy Stuart and footmen Alfred Nugent and Jimmy Kent - haven't had much time to find their feet before finding themselves in the thick of the drama.

"It's a really great ensemble piece and I'm really lucky to be a part of it, to be honest," Ed Speleers, who plays Jimmy, said.

"I never went to drama school - this is drama school for me and I'm learning off some great people."

Catch Downton Abbey on UTV on Sundays at 9pm or catch up on the UTV Player.

© UTV News
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