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Television

‘Downton Abbey’ closes out the series with its highest finale ratings

APphoto_TV-Downton Abbey-Other Endings

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary in a scene from the final season of “Downton Abbey.” The show’s final episode on Sunday reached 9.6 million total viewers.

(Nick Briggs / Carnival Film & Television)

“Downton Abbey” gave its fans — and PBS stations — the English version of a happy ratings ending.

The British period drama about intrigue in a grand aristocratic family early in the 20th century delivered 9.6 million total viewers for Sunday’s series finale, according to Nielsen.

FULL COVERAGE: ‘Downton Abbey’ news, features and intrique

That makes it the most-watched finale of all six “Downton” seasons. The Season 5 closer in March 2015 drew 8.4 million.

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The final season of “Downton” has been the most-streamed, with 12.4 million streams on the PBS digital platforms so far. That’s sure to go up later this month; the finale itself will become available to watch on March 20.

“The TV journey for ‘Downton’ has come to an emotional end, but what amazing ratings,” executive producer Gareth Neame wrote in a statement.

As it happens, “Downton” ratings were actually down a bit this year. January’s season opener reached 9.9 million, a tumble from the all-time high of 10.2 million who turned up for the Season 4 premiere.

Even so, the show was far and away the biggest scripted hit ever for PBS and a boon to the member stations that ran it, which are heavily dependent on viewer support for fundraising.

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Critics were generally kind to the show’s fairy-tale finale episode, although some felt that the wrap-up was a little too fairy-tale for a modern TV series.

Times critic Mary McNamara called the finale “complete rot,” adding: “If there has ever been a more wantonly happy-ending finale in the history of television, I have never heard of it.”

What did you think?

Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT

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