It probably didn’t escape your attention that Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary was broadcast in nearly 100 countries last Saturday/Sunday, simultaneously, and screened in cinemas in several time slots across the weekend.
Yes, it truly was The Day of the Doctor. Press reaction – save a rogue Daily Mail article which we won’t grace with any direct hits – was largely in favour of the Matt Smith/David Tennant/John Hurt mashup, and the show itself was the most watched episode of the series on TV (we’ll come to cinema later) sinc Christmas 2010’s wonderful A Christmas Carol episode with Michael Gambon guesting. This time around, Doctor Who peaked at 10.61m/41.2%.
Update: 12.8 million is the final, official viewing figure taking into account delayed viewing, but not iPlayer repeat/catchup viewings, which could add another 2 million onto the total. We’re looking at a scenario in which Doctor Who basically doubled its viewing figures on some episodes from the 2013 run!
That, however, is the tip of the iceberg of popular success for Doctor Who‘s anniversary special. Not only did its average audience (an overnight figure, so not the final numbers) beat ITV’s cynical The X Factor with 10.18m/37.4% to 7.67m/28.6%, the at-times-uncomfortable Doctor Who Live on BBC Three was a success for that channel, averaging 1.37m/5.5% making it one of the most-viewed shows on the channel behind football and Family Guy. Did someone say Doctor Who Confidential?
Domestic 3D figures are disappointing, however, with just 21,000 (0.1%) watching the BBC’s final 3D broadcast for the foreseeable future. To put this into context, in 2012 there were supposedly 1.3 million 3D TV sets in the UK. Don’t place the blame on 3D, however…
In the UK alone, the 3D screenings of The Day of the Doctor made an astonishing £1.8 million placing it third behind Hunger Games: Catching Fire and new 3D space survival movie Gravity. The anniversary episode also struck the top of iTunes in the US and Amazon’s TV chart.
[pullquote align=right] The $4.77 million taken at the US box office, resulted in Doctor Who being the no. 2 movie in the USA on Monday night.[/pullquote]Perhaps most impressive, however, is the $4.77 million taken at the US box office, resulting in Doctor Who being the no. 2 movie in the USA on Monday night, second only to the new Hunger Games.
We’ll pause a moment while you re-read that last sentence.
Shown in RealD 3D in over 660 select movie theatres across the country, over 320,000 tickets were sold.
Soumya Sriraman is EVP Home Entertainment and Licensing, BBC Worldwide North America, who managed distribution and promotion with Fathom Events.
It’s incredible that Doctor Who has made history once again, setting record numbers across the board on BBC America, in social media, and now in theaters. It’s a testament to the fans and their dedication for Doctor Who. We wanted to fulfill the fans desire to be part of the global celebration and they rewarded BBC Americaand NCM Fathom Events with their enthusiasm and support.
Shelly Maxwell, executive vice president of Fathom Events:
Doctor Who fans have proven their loyalty and devotion to this series, making it the most successful sci-fi series ever and now the biggest Fathom, one-night event, ever .In association with BBC America, we are thrilled to have given fans the opportunity to watch the Doctor in a whole new way – in 3D on the big screen.
Forget Harry Potter directors and former BBC One controllers trying to launch Doctor Who in Hollywood – Steven Moffat and Nick Hurran managed to conquer US cinemas from an office in Wales.
An amazing 96 countries including Russia and Venezuela screened The Day of the Doctor. In Australia, 1.3 million tuned in (424,000 at 6.50 am on Sunday morning for the international simulcast, and another 922,000 viewers for the 7.30pm repeat) making Doctor Who the ninth most watched show in the country that day.
As you can see – and brace yourself – around the world Doctor Who was a big deal on November 23rd, its 50th anniversary, and rightly so. If you’re still not convinced, to give you an idea of the buzz and reaction, this graphic demonstrates how Twitter chatter peaked at 7.45pm, dropped off and then picked up as the broadcast ended. You’ll also notice the ratio of female fans to male…
— SecondSync (@SecondSync) November 24, 2013
Regular readers will know that we’re not prone to hyperbole. Given the ratings, worldwide reaction and favourable reviews, it would seem unfair not to call The Day of the Doctor the greatest episode of Doctor Who ever. It seems everything just went right.
As for you lot… well, the comments we’ve seen on the various posts about The Day of the Doctor have been largely positive. Probably the best idea of how well received the episode was among our readers can be found in our flash poll, launched as the end titles rolled. An amazing 1165 votes were cast, with over 84% of respondents voting enthusiastically in favour. What follows are the highlights….
[pullquote align=”right”]An amazing 1165 votes were cast in our poll with over 84% voting in favour of The Day of the Doctor: “A fitting tribute to 50 years of time travel” [/pullquote]”A fitting tribute to 50 years of time travel” said 53.73% (626 votes), while considered it “
Naturally not everyone enjoyed the episode. At the other end of the scale, “I enjoyed An Adventure in Space and Time more than this” received 29 votes (2.49% share) of the share and “I hate you Steven Moffat, Doctor Who is dead to me, etc.” attracting 12 votes (1.03%). Given the figures you’ve seen above, we don’t think Steven Moffat has lost any sleep over The Day of the Doctor.
Except when partying on it.
Usually when we bring you these reaction articles, we spend a bit of time on what the press thinks. This time around, we’re more interested in you – after all, it’s the 50th anniversary and Doctor Who isn’t fighting for critical approval any more, is it?
Reader Jonathan O’Sullivan watched The Day of the Doctor at the cinema:
Watched The Day of the Doctor at the cinema in 3D with my kids. Loved it. Great to be in a cinema when people are cheering, laughing, applauding and silent in all the right places. Loved it loved it loved it. And my doctor at the end as well. Superb. I am a happy man.
Also watching on the silver screen was Andrew G Dick.
A fitting tribute to 50 years of time travel. Watched it at the cinema in Glasgow and it was great atmosphere. You can keep your Star Wars and Star Trek movies, that had way more wit and charm than they could ever get. Loved it, and would easily place that very highly, probably a top 10.
Geoff later commented that Steven Moffat rose to the challenge that he’d set himself.
Agreed. It was just enjoyable, hugely enjoyable. Yes the Rassilion stuff is dodgy, as was the unresolved Zygon plot line but I got to see Peter Capaldi, Tom Baker acting with Matt Smith and such a load of other treats I really don’t care. The good stuff far outweighed the bad which is why I went for Great story. Bearing in mind the difficult task he had I thought Mr Moffat rose to the occasion.
We shouldn’t overlook the fact that The Day of the Doctor twists the show into a whole new direction, enabling Doctor Who to finally emerge from the long shadow of the Last Great Time War. DonnaM noticed.
A fitting tribute and a smashing ride. Laugh-out-loud moments, shocks and surprises, and a chance to move away from the guilt-ridden “murderer of his own race” line. Interesting as it’s been, getting rid of that war-guilt does give the chance to move the character in a new way.
There are many more wonderful observations from our regular commenters (and one or two dissenting voices that should also be heard but let’s finish with David F, noticing how the Time War is present in a much-loved episode of classic Doctor Who:
A line from Terror of the Zygons:
“When our planet was destroyed in a recent catastrophe . . . ”
Moffat must have access to a real time machine. Time War references planted in 1975 episodes. So at least it proves he ties up story arcs eventually, even if it does take a lifetime. (Literally. I was born on the day that line was broadcast.)
Day of the Doctor. Seriously classy. The nostalgia card was played lightly, but with great precision. Best of all, they didn’t rush the closing title, which meant we got to hear the middle-eight of the theme tune again, at last, and that was my greatest wish for the episode. Doctor Who always seems more epic and emotional when it’s included.
Could have lived without the tease of seeing Hurt begin his regeneration. Baker’s face and delivery regained the sprightly intensity of his TARDIS days.
Love it or hate it, The Day of the Doctor was an international hit with fans and the general viewing public alike! For Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary, who could have asked for more?