Downton Abbey Christmas Special wasn't a flop according to Julian Fellows

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellows has come out fighting after the two-hour epic Christmas special of the show was declared a ratings disaster by critics. Rather than basking in the glow of four years of success and not worrying what the critics say, Fellowes told reporters: “The fourth series garnered the highest audience figures since the show began and in fact the final episode was our highest UK figure ever – so much for the 'slump.”

On average the show attracted 6.6 million viewers which was a decline of just 200,000 over last year’s Downton Abby Christmas special. When viewers of ITV’s +1 channel were included the viewing figures shot up to 10.28 million. Its BBC rival show attracted 10.18 million in the same slot. Fellowes said that the final viewing figures are not yet in as the data for recorded episodes takes up to a week to come through but he said: “I think Call the Midwife is a marvellous show, I am flattered to be running neck and neck with it, whoever wins.”

We’re not surprised that Fellowes has felt the need to defend his show as by all accounts it was a bit boring. There was no satisfactory conclusion to season 4’s cliffhanger so viewers still don’t know if Bates murdered Green as revenge for raping his wife. The majority of the two-hour special was filled with minor subplots based at the family’s London residence or scenes with the Earl proving his loyalty to the crown by chasing down the whereabouts of a stolen love letter, which meant assembling an unlikely gang of thieves.

Bringing in American actor Paul Giamatti as a playboy didn’t really work but at least he added something new to the proceedings. We’re not sure if Giamatti’s appearance was supposed to help the programme’s standard American v English culture clash story lines or if it was just to help promote Downton Abbey in the states.

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