Although The Name of the Doctor reveals the Doctor’s greatest secret, something decidedly less mysterious is the Daily Mail’s attack on the BBC’s flagship show.
So it comes as no surprise that as this current series of Doctor Who comes to an end, the paper has raised concerns allegedly within the BBC that the show is in a ‘creative nosedive’ with the current run of episodes hampered by ‘dodgy storylines’.
Of course, unattributed quotes alone won’t serve as evidence so they have turned to the only thing that proves a drama has ‘dodgy storylines’ — overnight ratings.
Because nothing dodgy has ever been popular:
“Only 4.6 million people have tuned in to some episodes, and though the BBC insists the resurrected drama has eight million viewers, even this is well down from the ten million when the show was revived in 2005.”
Well, of course they’re not.
A random episode in Series 7 is not going to pull in as many viewers as the show’s long-awaited return from hiatus.
In fact, ratings from that time compared to now are down for all shows across the board because of the many ways audiences choose to watch TV now – these viewing habits are the reason why overnight ratings such as the 4.6 million quoted above are only relevant when collated with the time-shift data.
The paper went on to explain:
“Tomorrow’s episode, The Name of the Doctor, will set up November’s movie-length 50th anniversary episode, which sees the return of popular Doctor David Tennant and his companion Billie Piper.
However, Tennant’s appearance will be a one-off, and existing Doctor Matt Smith, who is highly regarded, is expected to leave to launch a film career.”
The implication here is that despite the ratings boost from the return of fan-favourite Tennant to the show and the popularity of Matt Smith – after all ‘highly regarded’ is just a synonym of ‘popular’ – the current Doctor is leaving (despite an interview in The Sun confirming otherwise) and this has something to do with Moffat’s supposed inability to maintain the success of the show.
The connecting tissue isn’t exactly clear here: is it to be believed that these events are the result of something that Moffat isn’t doing and therefore are acting as a band aid to whatever problems his management has wrought or something that will have a further negative impact upon ratings during Moffat’s allegedly poorly managed tenure?
Of course, there’s no evidence to suggest that either is the case apart from unattributed quotes – in fact, it’s a tradition of the show that a past Doctor return for an anniversary so you could argue that Moffat is giving fans what they expect (obviously, we all want eleven Doctors but hey, Tennant more than makes up for it.)
Either way, the paper argues something needs to shake up these overnight ratings:
“A Beeb source says: ‘The 50th anniversary episode seems a good opportunity for him [Moffat] to bow out. Either way, something dramatic needs to take place to improve ratings.’”
Depending on your definition of the word ‘dramatic’ I’d say the 50th anniversary of the world’s longest running television show might just qualify as something dramatic that would pull in a more than respectable share of overnight ratings.
Or say the return of a popular Doctor.
Either way, let’s leave it to a BBC spokesman to restore some normality to proceedings:
“But a BBC spokesman said: ‘The show has the highest audience share of all dramas on any channel this year and is in the top three most requested shows on iPlayer.’”