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Downton earns record ratings in US
Downton Abbey has raked in record ratings for the premiere of the third series in the US.
The episode - which features the wedding of Matthew and Lady Mary Crawley and arrival of Shirley MacLaine as Lord Grantham's feisty mother-in-law - saw a record 7.9 million viewers tune in to public broadcasting channel PBS on Sunday night, The Guardian reported.
The channel revealed ratings for season three quadrupled the average viewings for PBS primetime shows, which is usually two million viewers, and were double that of the launch of the second season of Downton, which opened to 4.2 million US viewers in January 2012.
The British period drama, created by Julian Fellowes, has become a cult hit in America, and also a success with the critics across the pond, earning more rave reviews for season three.
Downton has won seven Emmy awards and has three nominations at the Golden Globe Awards this weekend.
The success of the show in the US has helped propel many of the cast to stardom. Dan Stevens, who plays heartthrob Matthew Crawley, is currently starring on Broadway. He has also chosen to leave the show to pursue a career in Hollywood.
PBS said the season premiere notched up 100,000 tweets about the show on Sunday evening.