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The End of Doctor Who?

Doctor Who is set to end this week, ladies and gentlemen, as requested by Chicago Now’s Matthew Milam in his memo to the BBC.

Now rewritten as I Give Up on Doctor Who, the critic – whose positive and considered reviews we have previously featured on Kasterborous – has several issues with the current series, and is of course entitled to his opinion.

The fact remains, however, that calling for the show to be rested just because he doesn’t enjoy it as much as he did when Tom Baker was starring doesn’t mean that Mr Milam’s opinion is right.

It’s just his.

Obviously the BBC aren’t about to jump to the tune of some hack they haven’t heard of, but you might be interested to know that this week’s UK season opener, The Impossible Astronaut, took a lowly 6.5 million viewers according to overnight figures.

  • 9.6mThe Eleventh Hour3/4/2010 (starring Matt Smith)
  • 9.1m Partners in Crime 5/4/2008 (David Tennant)
  • 8.7mSmith and Jones31/3/2007 (David Tennant)
  • 8.6mNew Earth15/4/2006 (David Tennant)
  • 10.8mRose 26/3/2005 (Christopher Eccleston)

Source: Barb consolidated figures

This will probably have an extra 1.5 million viewers added to it to account for delayed viewings over the next few days, while the iPlayer users will no doubt add a final extra 2 million, giving us probably somewhere in the region of 10 million. However as iPlayer views somehow don’t count (despite them being the only real views, Barb…) the episode will likely finish somewhere in the 8 million area.

As you can see from the table above, this places The Impossible Astronaut much lower than the previous low of New Earth in 2006; you will, however, notice a correlation with the dates. It seems that episodes broadcast in mid-to-late April receive a lower figure than those in March and early April. Many will be surprised to find that two David Tennant series openers, New Earth and Smith and Jones are the worst-performing in terms of audience numbers.

Keep the faith, though, Doctor Who fans – The Impossible Astronaut had an average audience share of 36.7%, a sizable chunk, and audience figures peaked at 7 million.

Can any of the blame be laid at the BBC’s door? Prior to the episode, the horrific Don’t Scare the Hare managed a paltry 1.93m, while talent show So You Think You Can Dance managed 3.56 million. A stronger schedule would no doubt benefit Doctor Who which is clearly propping up the BBC One schedules on Saturday nights.


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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