‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ a Hit, As PBS’ ‘Masterpiece’ Ratings Soar 45%

Revisiting “Masterpiece Theater” pays off big with English drawing room drama drawing 6.4 million viewers

Revisiting familiar territory paid off handsomely for PBS' "Masterpiece" last Sunday. 

The first episode of "Upstairs, Downstairs," the station's return to its popular drawing room drama, was watched by an estimated 6.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen. 

The strong performance of the show, in addition to another highly rated across the pond import, "Downton Abbey" has seen viewership for the long running "Masterpiece" jump 45 percent, the channel reported. 

Each of "Downton"s' four episodes averaged more than 6 million viewers when it aired last January.

The strong showing for "Upstairs, Downstairs" comes amid a packed Sunday slate. Though airing at a later hour, AMC's mystery drama "The Killing" averaged 2.6 million viewers Sunday, while the debut episode of E!'s "Khloe & Lamar" drew 2.6 million total viewers.

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Ironically, the ratings resurgence comes as funding for public broadcasting is at the center of a fierce congressional debate, with House Republicans threatening the slash federal support. 

The original "Upstairs, Downstairs" ran from 1974 to 1977 and centered on the servants and aristocrats in a British manor. The new series, take place five years after the first in 1936 Britain, after a new family has taken over the mansion.

The show was produced as part of a new co-production partnership announced last year by Masterpiece on PBS and BBC Worldwide Sales and Distribution, Americas. 

The strong showing for "Upstairs, Downstairs" comes amid a packed Sunday slate. Though airing at a later hour, AMC's  mystery drama "The Killing" averaged 2.6 million viewers Sunday, while the debut episode of E!'s "Khloe & Lamar" drew 2.6 million total viewers.