In many ways the title of the article says it all. I could stop writing and go home now except those five little words somehow underplay the magnitude of the situation.
At the start of 2005 prime time television was dominated by tired soaps, quizzes, reality shows, makeover programmes and Ant and Dec�s retread of Noel�s House Party. These were, apparently, what the masses wanted to watch.
Into this market the BBC launched an expensive gamble, a multimillion pound revival of a science fiction show originally axed because of failing ratings and an inability to deliver on a BBC budget.
Only months after ITV had twice launched and cancelled expensive revivals of Crossroads BBC1 Controller Lorraine Heggessey announced she was bringing back Doctor Who.
Speaking at the time of the announcement lead writer Russell T. Davies said the show would be �a full-blooded drama which embraces the Doctor Who heritage�. As online fandom set the web ablaze with speculation and rumour, one question soon dominated the discussion, could the show succeed in today�s TV landscape.
As transmission neared and the promotion of the show got underway a sign of the possible ratings performance came from a very unlikely source, Messers Ronnie Corbett and Barker. Just a week before Doctor Who�s debut the veteran performers returned for an affectionate look back at some of their favourite sketches in The Two Ronnies Sketchbook.
In a move which surprised many they were the BBC�s top rated show of the night with almost 7.7million viewers. In the build up to the transmission of �Rose� many fans failed to spot just how good an omen this would prove to be for Doctor Who.
On March 26th, amid a huge publicity campaign, 10.81 million viewers tuned in to see Doctor Who return. It was the weeks highest rated non soap show on any channel and beat episodes of EastEnders, Emmerdale and Coronation Street.
As for Ant & Dec, they lost over a million viewers as they were roundly trounced by the return of the Timelord. It was an experience they�d have plenty of opportunity to get used to � Doctor Who would score an easy victory the following two weeks as well.
Only the overnight figures for 16th April offered the Geordie Duo any comfort with them beating Who by just 140,000 viewers. When the number of people taping the show for later viewing are taken into consideration a fourth victory for Doctor Who is almost guaranteed.
Even national events such as the Grand National and Royal Wedding have been left trailing in the wake of Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper.
The popularity of Doctor Who proves that the audience is desperate for something new, intelligent and well made. And, although Doctor Who has a 41 year legacy, it�s a very new experience for a large percentage of the audience.
Sadly that message has not yet sunk in over at ITV. Four weeks in a run the BBC�s top rated show has been an expensive, effects heavy drama with a first class cast. And what is ITV offering from the 23rd April? Celebrity wrestling!
Perhaps the ITV scheduling department is staffed by closet Who fans?
PS: In case you were wondering the Two Ronnies, the Matt Lucas and David Walliams of their day, are doing just fine in the ratings game. At the time of writing they have made the BBC1 top ten three weeks out of four, narrowly beaten to into 11th place by the wedding of Prince Charles and the new Duchess of Cornwall.