Despite the sudden death of popular Downton Abbey character Lady Sybil being kept a closely guarded secret until Sunday’s dramatic episode, it still managed to top the viewer ratings with a whopping 9.5million fans tuning in.
This was an astounding 100,000 more viewers than The X Factor results show, which screened just before on 1TV1, so the Daily Mail newspaper reports.
Fans of the show will know how in the heart-breaking episode Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay) died in a shocking story twist hours after giving birth to her first child.
Family physician, Dr Clarkson, had warned the Crawley’s that he believed Sybil to be suffering from eclampsia, a serious blood pressure condition in pregnancy which causes hallucinations and convolutions and which often leads to death, and urged them to have her moved to a hospital for an emergency C-Section to save both her and her unborn child. Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) resisted following the advice of a specialist he had brought in for the event, despite his wife, Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) begging him to listen to the old family friend.
When the child, a girl, was brought safely into the world later that night, it seemed like Dr Clarkson had indeed got it wrong, but tragedy struck in the middle of the night when the eclampsia that Lady Sybil was in fact suffering from, took hold of her in the form of fits, before ending her life prematurely.
This left the family devastated and divided, as Lady Cora makes her feelings very clear indeed, she blames her husband, Lord Grantham, for her daughter’s death, and orders him to sleep in the spare room!
After the episode was aired, fans took to social networking site, Twitter to express their grief over Jessica Brown Findlay’s surprising departure from the epic period drama.
Celebrity fan of the show, former Blue Peter presenter Zoe Salmon tweeted: ‘My head still hurts after crying over Lady Sybil’s death. #downton.’
Another follower wrote: ‘When Tom kept saying “Wake up, love” I just cried even more. #downton #sybil.’
With another viewer posting: ‘A moment of silence for the Downton Abbey fandom who have all died alongside Sybil tonight.’
Downton Abbey can be seen Sundays at 9pm on ITV1/ITV1 HD.