ITV costume drama Downton Abbey pulled in more than seven million viewers, comfortably beating BBC’s Inspector George Gently.

Downton Abbey had an impressive start when it aired on Sunday night attracting just over 7.6 million viewers.

The period drama, set in 1912, is written by Julian Fellowes – who won an Oscar for his Gosford Park script and stars Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville.

According to the MediaGuardian The seven-parter opened with an average of 7.68 million viwers and a 30 per cent audience share from 9pm, which comfortably won it’s slot against the BBC1 show Inspector George Gently which attracted 5.2 million.

Downton Abbey enjoyed the benefits of a large X Factor audience, which saw 12.5 million tune in to watch the second part of this year’s boot camp process.