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Published on September 26th, 2011 | by Andrew Reynolds

Guardian Causes Ratings Storm

Today in unsurprising news: it turns out nobody records quiz shows.

With the final consolidated ratings for The God Complex standing at 6.77 million viewers, a further 1.57 million time shift viewers makes light work of trouncing dark overlord and Flora flogger known as Verrrrrrrnnunouuuoonn Kay.

To those unaware; The God Complex was beaten on overnight ratings by the Kay hosted All Star Family Fortunes - a revamped version of the Bob Monkhouse/Max Bygraves/Les Dennis void filler – sparking The Guardian to use the lower than expected ratings to beat Doctor Who over the head with until it admitted it was ‘too complex’

While the consolidated figures again reinforce the argument that overnight ratings can never offer the full picture when it comes to a fair representation of viewing habits, The Guardian, again using the fact that the overnight viewers for All Star Family Fortunes were again better than Doctor Who this week for Closing Time, have again raised the issue of Doctor Who’s ‘mixed fortunes’.

It is so sad to see such a culturally savvy up market broadsheet aligning itself with The Sun. These aren’t ‘mixed fortunes’ but a fantastic example of the game completely changing and the sooner The Guardian stops misrepresenting the figures (to be fair to them the article is far more reasonable than the headline) the better.

If in fact you want a sober, clear-headed breakdown of viewing habits for the whole of the nu-who run then look no further than this blog entry by DWM editor Tom Spilsbury and rejoice in the fact that Doctor Who ratings have increased since 2005!

By now the comments section on The Guardian website should be overflowing with Doctor Who fans, but feel free to join them in expressing your ire…


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About the Author


Everyone has a favourite Doctor and mine - just for his honesty, his fairness and his ability to not notice the Master's awful, awful disguises/anagrams (Sir Gilles Estram!?!) - has to be the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. The stories didn’t serve him as well as his acting served those stories.

12 Responses to Guardian Causes Ratings Storm

  1. avatar Edward says:

    Yes…because if anyone can be trusted to be clear-headed and unbiased about Doctor Who’s ratings, it’s the guy who runs the official Doctor Who magazine, and whose entire job relies on the show doing well.

    • Edward, surely you’re aware that DWM existed from 1989 to 2005 while the show was off air? His job doesn’t rely on DW doing well.

      Presumably you believe everything you read in the papers :)

    • avatar vaguely says:

      Perhaps you could look at the data, rather than attack the person presenting it?

  2. avatar Mugen Pharoah says:

    Newspapers are only interested in pleasing their advertisers. They are more interested now in presenting their own rejigged versions of various memes, the idea of Doctor Who falling ratings being one of them. It suits the ‘grand narrative’ created by these chip wrappers of an inevitable decline following Tennant’s departure, which just isn’t true.

    But since when has any newspaper let facts get in the way of a ‘good’ story?

  3. As a Who fan of 41 years I can only say… YAWWNNN. Seen it all before, one minute it’s fashionable to watch, then it isn’t, then it is again… ad infinitum… it ain’t going anywhere so why worry.

    My local newsagent the other day : assistant handing over my copy of Dr Who Magazine : ‘Ooh, have you heard, they’re sacking Matt Smith and replacing him with a female Doctor!’ She was a little taken aback when I laughed in her face long and loud…

  4. avatar Ian O'Brien says:

    Based on the blog by Tom Spilsbury looks like Dr Who will be more popular than last year! Never believe what you read in the papers! Trust DWM.

    • …except when they tell you that the Doctor is dead….

  5. avatar Lord Darth Tyeler says:

    It doesn’t surprise me that the Guardian are sneering at Doctor Who. There isn’t much that the Guardian doesn’t sneer at.

    • you’re right, I’ve been falling out of love with them over the past few years as I’ve come to realise that they are the very epitome of champagne socialism…

  6. avatar Alex says:

    Speaking as a newspaper reporter of 20 years experience, one thing I’ve learned is negative news sells, positive news doesn’t. I spent several years writing a section that told positive stories about people, only to have it cancelled because of lack of advertising. Meanwhile, everyone wants their ads to be next to the murder and war stories. What is the bigger headline – the one that’ll draw the readers and advertisers: “Doctor Who continues to be a success” or “BBC shocker as Doctor Who cancelled after 50 years”? How about “Matt Smith brings Doctor Who to new heights of popularity” vs. “Matt Smith canned as Doctor Who reaches new ratings lows”? They’ll go for the negative everytime. Hence they’ll take a story about a field of diamonds and point out the single lump of coal. When Star Trek was on its last legs on TV 10 years ago, newspapers regularly reported on how the franchise was in trouble, that Enterprise was failing, and that Trekkies are in mourning because their franchise was bout to end. It’s no different with what the Guardian et al are doing with Doctor Who. Except, the numbers don’t support them, whether it be the awards or things like the BBC calling DW its biggest moneymaker last year, and DWM’s analysis of the ratings over the last few years. In most respects what the Guardian reports is meaningless because the show has been renewed for a 7th season, they won’t cancel the thing before the 50th anniversary, and Matt Smith and Moffat likely have the job for as long as they want it. The danger is in fairweather viewers who decide “Ooh the Guardian says the show is fading, so I better stop watching it”. Like it or no, we do still need to keep the “non-Whovians” watching in order for the show to in fact survive.

    • avatar Drew Fleming says:

      That’s the crux of the matter. It’s the “non-Whovians” who will be reading these relentlessly negative stories without knowing the truth – and if they perceive the show to be a dud they will avoid it. As they say nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd.

  7. avatar Alex says:

    Almost as if to prove my point above, the UK version of Huffington Post is reporting on the cancellation of Doctor Who Confidential. Its headline (at least at the time I posted this link)? “Doctor Who axed”!

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