The BBC has descended into ‘defensive mode’ over the past few days, rejecting every suggestion that Doctor Who isn’t as popular as it was just a few years ago.
Their latest comment on the topic is:
“Series 8 saw Peter Capaldi take up the iconic role of The Doctor, with an average consolidated audience of 7.4m viewers every week in the UK.
This an increase of 39% on the overnight figures reported the day after broadcast.
This includes the 9.2m average audience that watched Deep Breath, Peter Capaldi’s debut episode, which is the highest figure for a non-special episode (Christmas/50th anniversary) since the opening episode of series 5 (Matt Smith’s debut) in 2010.
These figures show how Doctor Who has consistently achieved big audiences across the last three series – series 7a/7b combined had an average consolidated audience of 7.4m, series 6a/6b attracted 7.5m and series 5 was viewed by 7.3m.
There has been over 18.9m requests to watch Doctor Who series 8 on BBC iPlayer – an average of 1.6m requests for each of the 12 episodes.
In the US, consolidated figures for the first 10 episodes have seen Series 8 experience a 23% uplift in total audience in Live+7 on Series 7.
The series 8 premiere was the show’s highest-rated series premiere ever on BBC America, and is the first BBC Worldwide series ever to simultaneously hold the #1 slot in the Main TV Season Charts across all major Electronic Sell-through platforms in the US within 48 hours of episode 1’s release on August 24th 2014.
In Canada, on the Space channel, the first 10 episodes of Series 8 have seen a 22% uplift in consolidated audience size on Series 7.
Steven Moffat, lead writer and executive producer said: “We never take it for granted, but the miracle has happened again – the nation has taken a brand new Doctor to its heart.”
Danny Cohen, Director of BBC Television added: “It’s been an outstanding debut series for Peter Capaldi as Doctor Who and I’m very grateful to Peter, Steven Moffat and everyone involved.”
But no matter how much the BBC like to spin otherwise, growing numbers of people watching recordings and iPlayer days after broadcast isn’t a great achievement.
The latest season is the best since Steven Moffat took over thanks, in part, to the casting of a weighty and capable lead actor and the long overdue dropping of the ‘impossible girl’ yawn fest.
But the show’s been ill-served by the ‘genius’ bosses who decided to move it from the teatime spring slot it used to dominate, into the crowded, talent show heavy pre-Christmas schedules.
Fitting Doctor Who in has meant pushing it up against X Factor because the BBC insists on running Strictly Come Dancing in the same weeks of the year that ITV airs its biggest hit.
But a 9pm finish is just too late for the show and its audience, and it’s a shame that Danny Cohen and other BBC suits can’t publicly acknowledge their scheduling errors which have provoked the headlines they’re now trying to play down.