Downton Abbey finale attracts 10m viewers for ITV1

Downton Abbey Downton Abbey depicts life in an Edwardian country house

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The final episode of ITV1 costume drama Downton Abbey gained an average 10.1m viewers, while critics have reacted warmly to the show's overall impact.

The last instalment, which ended with news of Britain going to war with Germany in 1914, was watched by 11.4m at its peak on Sunday night.

Max Hastings, writing in the Daily Mail, called the programme "a good deed in a tacky screen world".

The drama has been recommissioned for a second series.

Hastings' added that it was better than "American rubbish" with "witty and intelligent" scripts and "impeccable acting".

An editorial in The Independent said viewers would suffer "withdrawal symptoms" with the end of the seven-part saga, adding Downton Abbey is the "most-watched TV costume drama since Brideshead Revisited".

The Telegraph's Andrew Pettie said the programme's success is rooted in its existence as a "soap opera with starched collars".

He added that he was relieved that a second series is in the pipeline, saying "like the other 11 million Downton devotees, I can't wait."

The show has been a "runaway success", according to The Daily Mirror, which reported that a number of cast members are heading for Hollywood thanks to their roles.

The series, penned by Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes, has also come in for criticism after viewers spotted TV aerials and double yellow lines in scenes of the Edwardian drama.

The programme, which charted life above and below stairs of a stately house, featured Dame Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville among its cast.

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