There's nothing Downton Abbey proved all over again, like a period drama to keep British audiences curled up and cosy in front of their televisions of a weekend night, especially if it is a saga shot through with class. At heart, we are still gluttons for daily life misremembered above and below stairs. By the final episode, last night, 11 million people were in thrall to the doings of Lord Grantham and the rest, making it the most-watched television costume saga since Brideshead Revisited acquainted us with Sebastian Flyte and his bear. It is worth noting, in passing, that the BBC does not have a monopoly on the genre.
But such success leaves a dilemma: what are 11 million people to do with 90 spare minutes on a Sunday night? Nor was it just the storyline; confirmed modernisers discovered a passion for the finer points of manners and titles; spotting anachronisms became a national sport. So now what? Well, there's still Strictly on the other channel (with Ann you-know-who); there's The Apprentice – even The X Factor, if you can't be bothered to switch channels. And the BBC promises a new Upstairs Downstairs.
But the best solution might either be to pretend it's not over and re-watch the DVDs until the new series begins, or to do something really useful, like walk the dog.