ITV extends stay at ‘Downton Abbey’

U.K. web orders another eight eps from Carnival

LONDON — ITV has greenlit a third series of the Julian Fellowes-scripted English country-house saga “Downton Abbey.”

Another eight episodes of the show have been ordered from U.K. shingle Carnival, owned by NBC U.

Sold to more than 200 territories and a source of endless media fascination, “Downton Abbey” has become a pop culture phenomenon, even influencing fashions.

ITV said audience figures for the U.K. second series, which bowed this fall, were 21% up on series one.

Including catchup services, the second season has achieved an average audience of 11.5 million viewers, according to the broadcaster.

The third series will be set in 1920 and 1921, and cover a period of 18 months in the lives of the Crawley family and their servants.

The show’s backers have said they will keep it running for as long as there is a demand from auds, but some critics have already grown tired of its soap-style storylines.