As the first series of Doctor Who comes to an end the acres of media coverage has one common thread running through it – that marketing and broadcasting experts claimed the show would never succeed.
The Times reports that �pre-transmission market research suggested that the BBC was heading for a �10 million disaster�it found that viewers thought Doctor Who was a �niche� series for �science fiction geeks�, far from the family audience BBC One was seeking. The flop Thunderbirds feature-film revival was raised as a discouraging comparison.�
In an interview for the BBC Press Office, Russell T Davies says �we were told, Julie (Gardner) and I, to be careful aiming for a family audience because it doesn’t exist anymore.�
As a simple look at the ratings and audience share for the past 12 weeks will show, the experts got it wrong. Far from being an expensive failure, the show has enjoyed an average audience share of 37.95%.
In a multi-channel world these are figures to die for.
The success of the show is easy pinpoint; rich and warm characters played by talented and appropriately cast performers, multilayered scripts which work on different levels for different audiences and ages, a generous budget enabling the production team to realise their visions and � most importantly � an audience desperate for something different.
In a TV landscape filled with cheap makeover and reality shows viewers flocked to a well made and intelligent drama series. Doctor Who isn�t the first, Judge John Deed, Hustle and Spooks blazed the trail while Who was still on the drawing board. But unlike these others, Doctor Who not only found an audience of its own, it demolished everything scheduled against it.
Some targets were easier than others, Celebrity Wrestling keeled over faster than an 80�s Cyberman struck by a gold coin and The Force proved a rather weak ally for The Phantom Menace. However the failure of Ant and Dec, ITV�s golden boys, was entirely unexpected.
Of course, a cheap and pale imitation of Noel�s House Party was always going to have a limited shelf life but no-one expected the Geordie Duo to loose to Doctor Who every single week.
As the current series ends and fans celebrate news of a third series, TV experts are left pondering the least accurate prediction since pollsters forecast a Labour win in 1992.