Doctor Who ratings: putting things straight

Stephen wants to have a chat about the Doctor Who ratings, and the so-called failure of the Matt Smith era. Buckle up...

Like me, I’m guessing many of you have seen some of the articles recently that have been telling us what a failure Matt Smith has been as Doctor Who and how the ratings have suffered hugely under him.

I include an extract from one such report below:

“Just 5.1 million people tuned in on Saturday night to watch Matt Smith complete his first outing as the Doctor – compared to the 9.4 million who watched David Tennant battle the daleks in the final episode of the last series.

It comes after average overnight figures for the whole series peaked at 6 million – 1.2 million less than the average for David Tennant’s Doctor of 7.2 million.”

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It could be from anywhere, really. Not just the tabloids either, even the ‘serious’ press have been seemingly sticking the boot in.

So what needs putting straight?

Well, the facts are that Matt Smith’s confirmed audience figures only go up to The Lodger so far – BARB has yet to give final figures for the last two episodes. Thus, by taking the first eleven stories, we see that they have an average viewing figure of a rather respectable 7.8 million. The season as a whole had an audience appreciation figure of 86.2%, and an average chart position of 12.

Impressive stuff, surely?

Well yes, indeed. Ignoring Tennant’s last few specials, his last complete series scored an average of 8 million (or 7.7 million if, like Smith, we remove the last two episodes). There was an average appreciation figure of 88.1 and an average chart position of 10 (or, again, 12 if we discount the last two stories).

So it would seem that Matt Smith has actually increased the number of people watching Doctor Who (by a small amount, admittedly).

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However, looking further, Smith’s 7.8 million for his first eleven episodes actually beats both Tennant’s first (7.7m) and second (7.5m) seasons in their entirety (and that includes season finales). Smith’s average also runs Eccleston’s Season to within 0.2 million of its average figure.

So there we have it – season ‘five’ – the second most successful season (so far) since the return of Doctor Who. And it drew higher ratings than any comparable comparison with the David Tennant era.

Of course, the figures for the final two episodes might well change things, but we won’t know until they’re confirmed, will we? Until then, hats off to Matt Smith!