Downton Abbey, Maggie Smith and Hugh Boneville
The Season 2 finale of Downton Abbey on PBS drew a whopping 5.4 million viewers in its first airing to post the network's biggest audience in nearly three years.
The two-hour closer was PBS' most-watched program since the 2009 premiere of Ken Burns' National Parks and was also more than double the average prime-time PBS viewership.
Shirley MacLaine joins Downton Abbey
"PBS and our member stations are so pleased that such a large audience is enjoying this great work from Masterpiece
," PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger said in a statement. "From viewing parties to Twitter mentions, Downton Abbey
is riding a wave of public enthusiasm, and it's been wonderful to see so many people discovering public television as a destination for programming that's smart, distinctive and entertaining."
Overall, Season 2 was up by 25 percent over the first season.
Season 3, which will feature new cast member Shirley MacLaine
, is currently in production in England and is scheduled to hit stateside early next year.