The BBC news pages are reporting that overnight figures for The Big Bang are half the audience that viewed The End of Time, Part 2 on New Year’s Day.
Of course, the Tenth Doctor’s swansong was event television with a slightly cynical edge to its David Tennant-heavy ubiqitous promotion – but then again, everybody knew what time Doctor Who was on that week.
These figures don’t make great reading – but that isn’t the problem. Whether they (based on an overnight temporary indicator and a full, classified final figure) can be compared or not is not the issue.
The issue is that the BBC have been migrating Doctor Who around the schedules like a tactical piece on a map, much like the model Ironsides in Victory of the Daleks.
Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Steven Moffat and the other writers and production team members have been sold short by a BBC scheduling department that seems hell-bent on throwing Doctor Who around in order to make way for other, less interesting television.
You can almost smell the disrepect.
A seemingly endless selection of pro-celebrity-amateur talent contests and and dancing shows designed to promote charities of Lord Lloyd-Webber’s latest money spinner continues to be the BBC’s Saturday night focus; I’d love to see the repeat/iPlayer/DVD salesÂ figures for these, and I’ll wager they’re not a patch on those of Doctor Who.
The average figure of 5.1 million people recorded for Saturday’s viewing will be adjusted by delayed viewing figures including iPlayer – however as Virgin Media have yet to add the episode, this might be lower than expected. Of course, they won’t quite find another 3 million viewers to bring the episode into line with The Eleventh Hour.
Only stability within the schedules and returning Doctor Who to 7pm can do this.