Published on March 28th, 2005 | by Christian Cawley
The ever-charming AA Gill gave a typically scathing, “not-quite-got-the-point” review of Doctor Who in this weekends Sunday Times Culture supplement. In his usual smug, trite and massively condescending way, he manages to bundle the phrases “Best Beloved”, “golden ageism” and “retrospective feeling of euphoria and sentimental glee”. While to his obverse intellect he is no doubt being fiendishly amusing, he serves only to completely overlook the fact that Doctor Who is a television program and not a nostalgia or history lesson; perhaps next week he might actually like to tell us what he thought of it and not write a review which makes a point of avoiding every single cliche about Doctor Who because he didn’t actually bother watching the show he is reviewing.
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In a more positive, in-tune move from the Sunday Times, the wonderful news that Doctor Who attained a fantastic 10.5 MILLION viewers is headline news. Cheeky Geordie chappies Ant & Dec, usually a big ratings pull on Saturday Night TV scrambled under half of the available viewers – possibly due in part to their show being already under pressure, but despite the presence of England captain David Beckham. They quote ITV as saying:
… it was untroubled by the defeat, claiming that comparisons between an entertainment show and a big-budget drama were unfair. A spokesman said: “The average audience of 7.2 million for Ant and Dec was up on the show last Easter Saturday, which got 7.1 million viewers. We have no complaints.”
“We’re pleased so many people sat down as a family to watch the return of the Doctor,” a BBC spokesperson said.
The TimesOnline article also pays attention to past Doctor Who ratings triumphs – Paul McGann’s TVM reaching 9 million, Sylvester McCoy reaching 4.2 million (a respectable figure in todays television climate) and Tom Baker making an average of 10 million.
Elsewhere we read in earnest Ian Hylands report on the show in the Sunday tabloids with a particular scathing criticism of the show, criticising the effects, the enemies and surprisingly Christopher Eccleston. Hyland commented that he would rather watch Ant & Dec but thanked the show for trying. That Dr Who reeled in as many viewers as it did is testimony to the series and of current TV scheduling, that sees us constantly barraged with ultimately tedious celebrity offerings week after week, and how refreshing it was to sit down and watch something worth watching on a Saturday, Ant & Dec you can keep your takeaway.