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'Downton Abbey' series three premieres with 8.6 million

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Downton Abbey made a successful return to ITV on Sunday night (September 16), pulling in over 8.6 million viewers.

Shirley MacLaine's debut in the hit period drama's third series opener was seen by 8.64m (34.6%) and 380k (2.4%) on ITV1 +1, around 200k lower than last autumn's second series premiere.

Downton Abbey, series 3, Matthew and Mary

© ITV

Robbie Hance's audition on The X Factor

© Ken McKay/TalkbackThames



However, Downton inherited a smaller X Factor lead-in than it did in 2011, with the singing contest's final round of auditions drawing 9.33m (36.4%) in the 8pm hour and 397k (1.5%) on timeshift.

The Xtra Factor appealed to 1.14m (4.3%) at 9pm over on ITV2, adding 214k (1.1%) on timeshift.

Despite topping the night and setting a new series high, The X Factor's ITV1 ratings are down a sizeable 1.9m on last year's equivalent instalment.

Bradley Walsh gameshow The Chase made an encouraging start in the 7pm slot, entertaining 4.82m (22.7%) for its first celebrity special.

Overall, ITV1 reigned victorious in primetime with 31.1% (+1: 1%) over BBC One's 18.5%, Channel 4's 5.4% (+1: 1%), BBC Two's 5%, and Channel 5's 3.2% (+1: 0.4%).

Fake or Fortune? (3.79m/19.1%), Countryfile (5.82m/24.5%) and Inspector George Gently (4.33m/16.5%) aired on BBC One, while BBC Two screened China on Four Wheels (1.22m/4.7%) and Dragons' Den (1.75m/6.7%).

Channel 4's Big Fat Quiz of the 80s enthralled 1.69m (6.8%) between 9pm and 10.30pm, logging a further 286k (1.8%) on +1. Not a single programme topped a million viewers on Channel 5.

BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional

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