Doctor Who tops Saturday ratings at 9.4 million

...but does the success owe more to The Stolen Earth than the quality of the final episode?

Billy Piper and Gimp Dalek

There are, no doubt, many backs being slapped around the corridors of BBC Wales today. In a statement that virtually exploded with pride, and fell just sort of grabbing Russell T. Davies around the neck and giving him a noogie, Auntie has just announced that Journey’s End clocked up viewing figures of 9.4m on Saturday night; around half of the total TV viewing audience, they claim.

It blew everything else that crossed the airwaves on Saturday into spacedust, topping the next highest rated shows on BBC or ITV by 5m – and topping ITV’s direct competition to it by a whopping 7m , a little revenge for the embarrassment of losing out to Britain’s Got Fecking Talent earlier in the series. If nothing that aired yesterday managed to top it (and the numbers for the late-night finish to the Wimbledon final and British GP are not in yet), it’ll apparently be the most viewed TV show of the week, the first time in 45 years it’s ever managed to get to number one in the weekly ratings.

The only comments that the Den of Geek team have to make on these facts are that the ratings seen here reflect far more kindly on The Stolen Earth – the set-up episode that preceded the finale – than they do on the far less interesting events of Journey’s End, or at least we hope they do. That and the fact that the ‘machine’ behind it managed to build up the kind of television event hype that I haven’t been party to for a few years, and the they should be applauded for that.

It’s a shame that most of us thought significantly less of the actual finale episode than we had the rest of the series – but then again, the odds were that it could never live up to expectations, nor was it ever going to be as clever, reverential or fan-friendly as it could’ve been.

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Remember: Doctor Who isn’t cult TV. It’s not a geek phenomenon anymore – we had ten years of that, but now it’s mass entertainment. While Russell T. may have always worn his geek credentials on his sleeve – to please, we’d suspect, the kind of people (i.e. us) who watch ‘Confidential’ – when it comes down to it, every major decision and serious plot progression has been driven by a will to hook in as many people as possible. A task, let it not be forgotten, he has been very successful at.

So once again, no one died. Comeback cameos are being plotted as we speak and the wait for the Christmas Special begins. T-minus 170 days and counting.

DoG reviews Journey’s End

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