DOCTOR WHO Showrunner Russell T Davies On Why He's Not Worried About Season 1's Low Viewership Figures

DOCTOR WHO Showrunner Russell T Davies On Why He's Not Worried About Season 1's Low Viewership Figures

With much being said about Doctor Who's poor ratings in the UK, showrunner Russell T Davies has chimed in to explain why that isn't a concern as BBC looks for a new, much younger audience. Check it out...

By JoshWilding - Jun 15, 2024 04:06 AM EST
Filed Under: Television
Source: Radio Times

Chris Chibnall's run as Doctor Who showrunner drove a lot of longtime fans away from the series. Some have blamed that on Jodie Whittaker being cast as the Doctor, but the show's first female Time Lord actually excelled in episodes which ranged from mediocre to downright awful. 

The pandemic also didn't help (there were significant delays between episodes and seasons), but the BBC has made a last-ditch effort to save the long-running sci-fi series by teaming up with Disney+ and enlisting Russell T Davies to take charge.

He revived Doctor Who to great success in 2005 and was in charge during Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant's respective stints in the TARDIS. As for Disney+'s input, it's meant the series has received a bigger budget and now streams globally. 

However, ratings in the UK for this latest revival - starring Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson - are not good. 

In fairness, that can be blamed on a bizarre release schedule which has seen new episodes hit the BBC iPlayer at midnight before airing on Saturday evenings at random times. At a recent Q&A, Davies addressed the drop in viewership head-on.

"In coming back, I wanted to make it simpler and I wanted to make it younger," he explained. "Those two things are often not discussed - you read reactions to it and people are missing that. It’s simpler and younger - and it is working."

"The under-16s and the 16-34 audience as well is massive. It’s not doing that well in the ratings, but it is doing phenomenally well with the younger audience that we wanted."

In a separate interview, Davies added, "They might not be the ratings we’d love. We always want higher. But they are building over the 28-day period. Episode one, 'Space Babies,' is already up to 5.6 million and counting. So it is getting there. And actually, I was brought back to bring in a younger audience. That’s been massively successful."

"The audience no one ever gets are the under-30s. They just don’t watch television anymore. But those figures are astronomic for Doctor Who, it’s their top program in that bracket. I never thought it was possible, to be honest. But according to the people who juggle the numbers, all targets have been reached and exceeded. The BBC are running around like mad things."

Without streaming figures, it's impossible to know how Doctor Who is really faring. Those Saturday evening ratings aren't great, but the majority of fans may have already watched it only by that point. While we'd imagine Disney+ viewership is also being taken into account, it seems the plan is to build a new, younger audience. 

Have you been watching the latest season of Doctor Who? If so, where and when?

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