Downton Abbey Is 'Officially' The Best Show On TV

Michael Moran reports on the all-pervading power of ITV's Sunday night TV colossus

You're a hip and edgy comic-book reading type. We know because you're here.

"So why", some of you hip and edgy comic-book reading types will be asking, "would a hip and edgy comic-book reading type like me be interested in Downton Abbey?".

Well. Because it's more than just some Sunday night Postcard TV show show for Mums.

It's a full-on cultural phenomenon. And that's not just me saying that. It's science.

Well. If a world record counts as science, and I think it does.

Downton Abbey has become the Guinness World Record holder for the most positively reviewed TV show.

Last year, US monsters  Sons of Anarchy and Modern Family shared the top spot with Mad Men. You know. That show that's a bit like X-Men First Class with all the action taken out.

But that period drama is yesterday's news. Downton Abbey has racked up a scored an almost perfect Metacritic score of 92 out of 100.

That fact will be reflected in the 2012 edition of the Guinness World Records that you'll inevitably find in your Christmas stocking..

Gareth Neame, executive producer and managing director of production company Carnival, said: "It is significant that this is the first time a British TV show has been so highly received around the world, confirming the UK's status as the home of world class drama."

Well, it's only fair to point out that a substantial percentage of the show's viewers are history pedants eager to pounce on any stray television aerials, modern roadsigns or non-period spats that stray into shot.

But that's the thing about Downton Abbey. It works as straight soapy drama, it works as ironic Twitter-fodder, and it works as a kind of tourist brochure of a perfect world that probably never existed.

It even works as the jumping off point for a daft Sylvanian Families YouTube clip.


The series follows the various travails of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in Edwardian England.

It averaged 8.76m (about 33% of viewers) across ITV1 and ITV1 HD during its seven-part run last autumn, and was a surprise hit with impatient US-based downloaders too.

Downton Abbey returns for a second series this Sunday, 18 September.