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Published on April 15th, 2014 | by Nick Kitchen

Moff on Doctor Who’s “Bad Ratings” Press Reports

So, there’s an old business saying that goes something to the effect of, “All publicity is good publicity,” and maybe there is a little truth in that (unless, of course, you happen to be US Airways today…I digress).

However, there is hardly anything more frustrating for a fan to swallow than constant negative rumblings about the show they care so much about. It’s especially true in Doctor Who’s case; after all, poor ratings and bad leadership ended up seeing the show cancelled for many years. That being said, we Whovians may be a little more sensitive to headlines that make it sound like our beloved show is in the tank. Have you ever wondered how those headlines affect those who work tirelessly on the show?

A reader in the most recent issue of DWM certainly did and in a letter to the Moff, he expressed his frustration with the “quick win” negative headlines and asked showrunner, Steven Moffat for his opinion on them:

“‘Doctor Who continues to be a massive hit’ is not a headline. ‘Doctor Who in ratings crisis’ is. Perversely, so long as Doctor Who is huge, those newspaper stories will continue. I’ll start worrying that there’s a problem when people stop trying to pretend that there’s a problem. So long as we’re click-bait for the papers and bloggers, we’re just fine. Highest rated drama of the year – highest rated drama on Christmas Day. Only the insane would quote that as evidence for decline.”

Hard to argue with that; after all, Monday screenings of the Day of the Doctor was only eclipsed by the cinema juggernaut known as the Hunger Games. All that being said, I pose a question to you, dear reader: does the negative headlines help generate positive buzz for Doctor Who? Let us know in the comments section below!


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About the Author


“That’s bacon! Are you trying to poison me?” And from that line on, I’ve been unable to stop watching, reading, musing about the Doctor. As a recent transplant to the Whoniverse, I’ve been trying to soak up as much Who-related knowledge as possible. That journey has taken me from the Tenth Planet to the Fields of Trenzalore and gently set me at the edge of my seat for what’s next. It’s an honor to be here and I plan to bring a unique perspective. I hope you’ll enjoy the journey alongside me.

13 Responses to Moff on Doctor Who’s “Bad Ratings” Press Reports

  1. avatar Lisa Gates says:

    I defend against the negativity that has been hurled so unjustly at the Doctor Who programming & the writing team & cast members.

  2. avatar Harry M VanHoudnos says:

    I think that the negative remarks are a good thing! Its good to see a perspective other than those who are Uber fans who feel that Moffat can do no wrong.

  3. avatar TonyS says:

    Accurate and uncoloured reporting would be the main thing.

    • avatar Harry M VanHoudnos says:

      I agree! It seems that most of the media feel that we should just leap and accept what Moffat has to say. Give us some accurate and material that does not treat Moffat as the see all, know all God that people act like he is!

      • avatar TonyS says:

        It works both ways. Let’s have reporting that does not treat Mr Moff as the fount of all evil in the universe.

  4. avatar DonnaM says:

    There’s a long British tradition of knocking success. There’s a definite anti-BBC bias in certain parts of the media. Doctor Who attracts interest and therefore may help sell the rags.

    Inevitably there’ll be more “crisis” than “all going swimmingly” stuff!

    On the Moffat issue: he is neither saint nor sinner, not the saviour of Doctor Who or the man who’ll destroy it. I like a lot of what he does; I dislike other elements. What I really don’t like, however, is the irrational reaction his name provokes in a small minority of both his admirers and his detractors :-)

    • avatar Pauluus says:

      nicely put, spot on.

  5. avatar TonyS says:

    Thank you, Donna. As always we can rely on you to be the voice of reason. :)

    • avatar DonnaM says:

      That might come as a surprise to my family, but thanks Tony! :-)

  6. avatar kilodalton says:

    While the overall numbers aren’t *declining* exactly, when you take the specials out of the equation the BARB ratings are absolutely stagnant no matter how anyone tries to spin it. I did a statistical analysis on this last year, posted here: … and yes, I am quite aware of the argument that “oh the low/stagnating TV ratings don’t matter because people watch on iPlayer on their computer nowadays.” The problem is that iPlayer reports only total VIEWS not total viewERS. Which the BBC doesn’t NEED to do since they have to track IP addresses to keep non-UK viewers from being able to stream the media.

  7. avatar Ron from the U.S. says:

    If the ratings have gone down, it’s because television – both in the UK and here in the US – have undergone a radical revolution across the board. And that revolution isn’t in what kind of content we receive, but HOW we receive our content. More and more people choose to view their content by non-traditional means: DVR, iTunes, iPlayer, Netflix, etc. Not to mention choosing not to watch entire episodes, but scenes here and there on YouTube and the like. These things aren’t taken into account when tabulating ratings.

    The fact remains that “Doctor Who” is one of the BBC’s most profitable shows, if not THE most profitable. The amount of money it makes from licensing and marketing is ridiculous. Hollywood TV and movie studios would KILL to have a franchise with a global reach like “Doctor Who.” Hell, “Day of the Doctor” shattered box office records here in the States when the special was shown in theaters. That means that people watched the special on Saturday, then PAID to watch it again that Monday.

    Papers can put whatever slant they want on any “declining ratings” story they want, but the fact remains that “Doctor Who” is a money machine. And as long as it remains so, it’s not going anywhere.

  8. avatar Ric Matney says:

    I hardly ever watch a show more than once; Doctor Who is one of those exceptions. I am on my fifth viewing of the first six seasons and I will begin the seventh season this year (I wanted to wait until I could see it on my 50″ TV with surround sound). I would rather see bad ratings published than no ratings. With bad ratings, I go into a show not expecting much, but I am usually pleasantly pleased with what I have just witnessed.

  9. avatar hyncharas says:

    I think reading the papers, particularly when it comes to shows including Doctor Who, is a waste of time. For some reason the tabloids hate it when things do well, mainly because suffering is more interesting to them instead of achievement. It’s not as exciting to capitalise on one’s successes rather than their failings.

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