Tomorrow’s fish and chips will be wrapped up in some stirring messages from The Sun – that Doctor Who has “shed” 1 million viewers between The Bells of Saint John and The Rings of Akhaten, with “disappointed fans” allegedly branding the episode “the worst ever”.
Yeh, The Sun – that’s right – and we do it every other week, too.
Overnight ratings – a guide and nothing more to the official figures – reveal that 5.7 million tuned into the second episode, apparently 1 million fewer than the previous week. We’ll be going into more detail on this later in the week, but let’s put things into perspective.
First, fans are vocal. They find comments sections or forums on websites like Kasterborous, they mouth off on Twitter and Facebook and generally express their love of Doctor Who in any way they can. If this means dismissing an episode as “the worst ever” then they will do – especially if they want to be noticed. Many fans have made a career out of this sort of behaviour.
Second, these are overnight figures. We’ve said it time and again, but they’re not the end of the line. There is probably an extra million hiding in delayed viewing for The Rings of Akhaten and perhaps as many as 1.5 million yet to be added to The Bells of Saint John.
Three, that after a hyped opening episode, any audience will drop for the subsequent weeks. This is the reason why Russell T Davies used the midpoint episode as a “mid-season launch” – see Dalek.
The Sun quoted the following Twits:
Helen Paling tweeted: “Just caught up with Doctor Who. Wish I hadn’t. Boring rubbish.”
Anna Hough wrote: “Genuinely the worst episode I have ever seen.”
Really? Thank your lucky stars you haven’t seen Time and the Rani.
Tony Leech said: “The most forced, cringeworthy faux sentimentality since the Van Gogh episode. Terrible.”
Which is interesting as Vincent and the Doctor was nominated for the Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation in the 2010 Nebula Awards as well as the 2011 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form). While the episode lost out on both of these, it was however nominated by people who know what they’re talking about.
All morning Twitter and other sites have been aghast at The Sun’s nerve in printing these comments and building a story of “Doctor Who Discontent”. In the show’s 50th anniversary year this is concerning, but we’re not blaming The Sun. They’re only trying to sell papers.
Would it be too much to expect fans to support Doctor Who in 2013? Really?