Published Monday, 23 September 2013
Downton Abbey has returned to UTV for a fourth series. (© ITV)
A peak of 10.5 million people watched the launch of the fourth series, up on the 9.6 million who tuned in for the opening episode of the Julian Fellowes' drama last year.
The episode, featuring Michelle Dockery as grieving widow Lady Mary, was watched by an average of 9.5 million, compared to nine million in 2012.
The phenomenal figures make it highest rating drama of the year so far in the UK.
Downton's TV success came as its stars Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith and Dockery lost out on the big gongs at the 65th annual Emmy awards in Los Angeles.
The drama missed out on a series of awards despite being nominated in 11 categories and enjoying big success in previous years.
It took home just one award for outstanding music composition.
The stars may not have taken any silverware at Sunday's Awards but said they are proud to have been nominated and are still celebrating its success.
The show had led the British charge ahead of the Emmy Awards but it seems that the period drama could not compete with the gritty US offerings.
"When we got 12 nominations for the third year running that seemed to me the greatest compliment I've ever been given," Downton writer Fellowes said at the event.
Actor Hugh Bonneville, who plays the Earl of Grantham said: "We're delighted of course that it continues to roll out around the world.
"I feel slightly embarrassed to have been nominated alongside these amazing actors and much as I love the others I hope it is Bryan Cranston's year because that show has been phenomenal and his performance has been extraordinary.
"He is a great actor, as are the others, but I think it's Breaking Bad's year."
Emmy Awards 2013
- Best drama series - Breaking Bad
- Actor in a drama series - Jeff Daniels for the Newsroom
- Actress in a drama series - Clare Danes for Homeland
- Supporting actor in a drama series - Bobby Cannavale for Boardwalk Empire
- Supporting actress in a drama series - Anna Gunn for Breaking Bad
- Best comedy series - Modern Family
- Actor in a comedy series - Jim Parsons for the Big Bang Theory
- Actress in a comedy series - Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Veep
- Supporting actor in a comedy series - Tony Hale for Veep
- Supporting actress in a comedy series - Merritt Wever for Nurse Jackie
- Best Miniseries or TV movie - Behind the Candelabra
- Actor in a miniseries or TV movie - Michael Douglas for Behind the Candelabra
- Actress in a miniseries or TV movie - Laura Linnely for the Big C Hereafter
- Best reality programme - Undercover Boss
- Best reality competition programme - The Voice
- Best reality show host - Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn for Project Runway
- Best variety show - The Colbert Report
- Best writing, drama series - Henry Bromell for Homeland
- Best writing comedy series - Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield for 30 Rock
© UTV News