Audience Dip?!

Recent Press Reports have suggested that Doctor Who’s popularity it on the wane following a series of decreasing figures over consecutive weeks.

It is likely that on the whole this is “poppycock”. Although several fans – myself included – have been of the opinion that the current series isn’t as strong as the last, this in no way translates into popular opinion, and the show certainly shouldn’t be written off yet.

A quick hop over to Outpost Gallifrey prvides an effective illustration. For example, last year The Empty Child aired on the same weekend as The Age of Steel. The second part of the cybermen story received half a million more viewers than the previous years classic. If we factor in – for arguments sake – the accepted fact that television series get slightly lower audiences for each episode of their run, and consider that The Empty Child was episode 9 of the last series while The Age of Steel was only episode 6, there’s no reason to expect this season’s audience to be lower or higher than the last.

So why the fuss? Slow news day? Something to talk about other than “Big Brother”? Who knows, but it does seem to be a bit of a non-story – The Independent:

A BBC spokeswoman insisted there were no concerns about the show’s ratings. “We’re absolutely delighted with how the show is doing,” she said. “Week on week, it’s continuing to outperform its competition.”

The BBC’s consolidated figures show that the first four episodes of the second series have outperformed the 2005 audience figures.

And from the online version of The Stage

So, should the BBC be worried? With two Christmas specials and a full series already commissioned beyond this one, they will naturally want to ensure that they’re getting the return for their investment. And, despite the quite significant downward trend suggested by the figures, there’s no sign that they won’t be. Saturday’s programme still attracted a very healthy 32% share — a figure that may well grow once timeshifted video recordings are counted into BARB’s final figures.

The Guardian meanwhile is a little harsher, throwing a wave oif statistics to prove their point before settling on the fact that:

Last year’s Doctor Who audience did fall away towards the end of the series, with the final two episodes both attracting 6.2 million viewers.

However, they went out in mid June, when less people are watching TV on a Saturday night, which is reflected in the healthy audience shares for the two episodes – 36% and 42%, respectively.

There’s more of the same in the Guardian Media Blog. If however there is a story here, it is this: the BBC schedulers are doing Doctor Who a disservice, and the problem needs fixing now.

Christian Cawley

A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

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