Doctor Who returns with over 6 million viewers

Doctor WhoDoctor Who was the highest watched programme on BBC One yesterday but the hot weather and early time slot dented its premier with over 6 million viewers tuning in.

UPDATED: CBBC’s tribute to Elisabeth Sladen was seen by over 700,000 viewers and Doctor Who Confidential ratings.

According to unofficial overnight ratings The Impossible Astronaut had 6.5 million viewers which is the lowest season premier of Doctor Who so far. However, the final figures for the episode – which will be released in 10 days time – are likely to push that figure higher. Repeat viewings and also the iplayer service will also push the ratings even higher. On the positive side as well as being the highest watched programme on BBC One it was also significantly higher than ITV1 at 6pm which had 1.3 million viewers for March of the Dinosaurs. The last fifteen minutes of The Impossible Astronaut saw ratings rise to 7 million viewers but once Doctor Who was offer ratings plummeted.

Meanwhile reviews for Doctor Who have been mixed with some being critical of the episode and its plots while others enjoying The Impossible Astronaut. Several reviews have concluded its likely the plot won’t make sense until audiences have seen Day of the Moon.

The Sarah Jane AdventuresFollowing The Impossible Astronaut was a special tribute to actress Elisabeth Sladen on CBBC. My Sarah Jane saw tributes from actors David Tennant, Katy Manning, Matt Smith, John Barrowman, Tommy Knight, Daniel Anthony and Anji Mohindra as well as Russell T. Davies. According to overnight ratings My Sarah Jane; A Tribute to Elisabeth Sladen was seen by over 700,000 viewers while at 7pm on BBC Three Doctor Who Confidential had just over 500,000 viewers.

The good weather across the Easter Weekend is doubtless to blame for the low ratings for The Impossible Astronaut. Exceptionally hot weather will have seen millions head for the beaches, national parks, open spaces ect to enjoy the weather while it lasts. As so often happens when the weather is nice ratings for television programmes drop but the time slot is also to blame, 6pm – seriously! The ideal time-slot for Doctor Who is 7pm as that gives viewers the chance to enjoy the weather but also return home or go indoors – 6pm is just too early.

Russell T. Davies argued, during his time as producer, that an early time slot would cost the show viewers – and every time it airs stupidly earlier it does just that. The BBC has a hit show in Doctor Who but must learn to schedule it right otherwise ratings drop and while repeats and the iplayer usually pick up those lost viewers the headlines about ratings drop by the tabloids damage the shows reputation. Just you wait until the headlines hit this week about the low ratings for the season opener, due to the hot weather and time-slot, and see how the tabloids spin it to be about the programme itself.

So lets hope the BBC sit up and take notice of the low ratings and realise its the time-slot at fault and not the programme. Perhaps fans should start a campaign to get Doctor Who moved to 7pm.