We review the ratings for the first half of Doctor Who’s sixth season – with all the final ratings for the episodes now available we’ll disprove the “myth” that Doctor Who has lost its appeal.
There’s no doubting that the “overnight” ratings for this year’s episodes of Doctor Who – so far – have been lower than in previous years. The overnight figures are the ratings so often touted by tabloids as proof that a show is a flop or a huge success even though they only tell part of the story – and are not nearly as accurate as the final, consolidated figures.
There’s no better evidence for that than this year’s Doctor Who episodes which have seen their ratings boosted significantly once final figures are released and yet these actual ratings are rarely reported by the tabloids. After all revealing certain episodes actually had audiences of over 8 million viewers don’t make sexy headlines, do they? In this article we review the ratings for the first half of season six with overnight figures against final figures and were possible downloads via the iPlayer as well – as these figures are NOT included with final figures.
The season kicked off on Easter Saturday with The Impossible Astronaut. The exceptionally hot weather and the early time-slot for the episode had an impact on overnight figures with 6.5 million viewers tuning in. The final figures for the episode though reveal it had an actual audience off 8.8 million viewers. It was later revealed The Impossible Astronaut was the most recorded programme in UK TV history. On the iPlayer the episode was requested a massive 1.79 million times! The episode was dedicated to Elisabeth Sladen who played Sarah Jane Smith in the original series and subsequent episodes of the new series as well as her own spin-off series. Following The Impossible Astronaut was a special tribute programme to Elisabeth Sladen on the CBBC Channel which had 700,000 viewers.
Day of the Moon, the second part of the season opener, also suffered at the hands of a bank Holiday weekend – because of the Royal Wedding – and the continuing good weather. A silly early time-slot also did it ill. The episode saw its overnight ratings drop to 5.4 million viewers but its final rating was 7.3 million viewers and 1.18 million requests on the iPlayer service. The Curse of the Black Spot saw its overnight ratings rise on the previous week with 6.2 million viewers gaining a final figure of 7.8 million viewers and was requested 1.18 million times on the iPlayer. The Doctor’s Wife had 5.9 million viewers according to overnight figures but achieved a final rating of 7.9 million viewers. On the iPlayer service it was the most requested programme of May with 1.22 million requests.
The Rebel Flesh, the first half of a two-part story, had 5.9 million viewers overnight with a final rating of 7.3 million viewers and was requested 1.1 million times on the iPlayer. The second part of the story, The Almost People, had 5 million viewers according to overnight results. The episode was the lowest rated story in terms of overnight figures of the sixth season. However, its final figure was 6.7 million viewers. According to figures – which only cover the first four days it was available to download – it was requested over 800,000 times on the iPlayer. The mid-season finale, A Good Man Goes To War, had an overnight rating of 5.5 million viewers but its final figure is much higher with 7.6 million viewers. At present we don’t have exact figures for the requests via the iPlayer – they will be released at the end of June – but the episode will almost certainly have topped 1 million downloads.
So despite some stories out there Doctor Who’s ratings remain very healthy which is why the BBC has ordered a seventh season already. There was one tabloid who claimed next year’s series would be the show’s 50th anniversary. Doctor Who was first broadcast in 1963 which makes 2013 its 50th anniversary by our reckoning but perhaps our maths is out? ; )