'Downton Abbey' Season Three Ends on U.K.'s ITV Ends on High, Becomes Show's Highest-Rated Season

Lady vs. Lady

"The gunfight at the OK Corral does not happen between Maggie [Smith] and me," MacLaine said in a recent interview. "We do a little sparring, we have our moments, but it's more sophisticated than that."

The Sunday finale of the costume drama drew a season-high audience, including average viewership of 10.1 million and a peak of 10.7 million.

LONDON - Downton Abbey finished its third season on U.K. commercial broadcaster ITV1 on Sunday with a season-high ratings performance, bringing to an end what the network says was the highest-rated season of the show to-date when including some delayed same-day viewing.

The costume drama drew a peak audience of 10.7 million and an average viewership of 10.1 million when including viewers on ITV1+1, a catch-up network that re-airs shows with an hour delay. At the end of September, the show had reached a then-season high of 10.0 million average viewers. "Downton bows out with a series high - peak of 10.7m (av 10.1m)," an ITV spokeswoman tweeted on Monday.

ITV also said that the third season of the drama, which in the U.S. will start on PBS in January, averaged 9.7 million viewers when including delayed viewing on the same day, for example via DVR. That makes it the highest-rated season so far, it highlighted. Season one had averaged 8.4 million viewers, followed by an average of 9.5 million for season two.

ITV, which will like last year air a two-hour Downton Abbey special on Christmas Day, is expected to order a fourth season of the drama, but hasn't done so.

The Sunday average rating made Downton the biggest show of the night, but in terms of peak viewership, The X Factor, also on ITV1, beat it with 10.9 million. The music competition show drew an average of 9.2 million viewers on Sunday. Again, the figures included viewership on ITV1+1.

BBC's celebrity dance show Strictly Come Dancing continued to beat X Factor on both weekend nights in terms of average audience figures. It drew an average of 9.6 million on Sunday, but its 10.4 million peak came in slightly below X Factor.

On Saturday, X Factor had reached an average audience of 7.8 million, with a peak viewership of 8.6 million. Strictly had recorded an average audience of 9.8 million, with a peak viewership of 10.8 million.

On Sunday, U.K. tabloids had written about a health scare for Downton Abbey star Maggie Smith.

But a spokesperson for the actress said: "Reports in the Sunday Mirror and Mail On Sunday that Maggie Smith has been rushed to hospital with a heart scare are untrue. She is fine and well and at home."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai