The BBC’s remake of Upstairs Downstairs enjoyed good viewer ratings during its three night run starting on Boxing Day, but the re-imagining of the 1970s period drama failed to surpass the huge success of ITV’s Downton Abbey which screened earlier this year.
The first episode of Upstairs Downstairs was shown on BBC One and BBC One HD at 9pm on Boxing Day, attracting 7.541 million viewers, a 28.4 per cent of all British TV viewers at that time.
However, the much hyped BBC drama starring Keeley Hawes, Ed Stoppard and Eileen Atkins lost viewers for its second instalment, and its third part – although improved - failed to match the dizzy ratings heights of the show’s opening night.
Upstairs Downstairs attracted 6.665 million, a 24.6 per cent share on Monday 27 December and 6.882 million, a 26.5 per cent share, on Tuesday 28 December.
Although the programme did manage to be the best rated show in each of its three slots, at no point did the show hit double figures in terms of viewers, something which its ITV rival Downton Abbey easily managed on finale night when 10.7 million viewers tuned in to see the conclusion of the period drama. In fact ITV’s seven part show only dropped below 9 million viewers for one episode during its seven week run.
Now, of course, Upstairs Downstairs was competing against a busy and enticing Christmas television schedule on other channels and didn’t have the benefit of inheriting a sizeable ‘leaked’ audience from the X Factor results show (as Downton Abbey did each week) … but still, the fact that less people finished watching the series than began viewing it will be a worry for BBC executives.
Perhaps the television audiences of Britain were suffering a little from period drama fatigue this winter, or maybe Upstairs Downstairs just wasn’t as good as Downton Abbey … who knows?
Well, whatever the reasons behind the figures, I’m sure they will be studied carefully over at BBC towers before a decision is made whether or not the show will be fully relaunched against a second series of Downton Abbey in 2011.
Period drama revivals continue.