The BBC has axed Upstairs Downstairs after it failed to see off competition from its Sunday night rival Downton Abbey, according to the papers.

The Sun on Sunday reports that the show – a revival of the 70s small screen hit – was dropped amid disappointing ratings, losing two million viewers during the course of the series and scoring an audience of just 4m for its final episode.

The falling ratings came despite an attempt to ‘sex up’ the show with saucy storylines, including a lesbian affair between the characters played by Emilia Fox and Alex Kingston.

By contrast, Downton Abbey pulled in an average of 11m viewers.

“Upstairs Downstairs was a popular show when we brought it back after all these years, but interest soon waned,” a source told the paper.

“Downton is a dominant force in that area, so there was no point in a similar show for fewer viewers.”

One of its stars, Neil Jackson, took to Twitter to express his disappointment at the news, saying, “I have just heard. I loved the show and will miss it greatly.”

It is thought the BBC will now invest more money into other popular shows, including Sunday night smash Call The Midwife – which rivalled Downton with viewing figures around the 11m mark when it was screened earlier this year.