Absence did indeed make the hearts of Downton Abbey fans grow fonder, leading them to tune into Sunday’s fourth-season premiere in record numbers.

According to a press release from PBS, a whopping 10.2 million viewers viewed the season’s first episode, a rise of 22 per cent from last year’s season premiere. Not only are these the highest ratings Downton Abbey has ever seen, the episode also set a new record as PBS’s highest-rated drama in the network’s history.

“As this captivating drama continues, our audiences have been eagerly awaiting this new season to see what’s next for these beloved characters,”; said PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger in a statement. “I’m so pleased that millions of viewers have returned to Downton Abbey on their local PBS stations for what has become a post-holiday tradition.”;