Doctor Who Season 11 Scored The Show’s Biggest Launch Ever


The Doctor is back, and in record-breaking style, it seems.

We already knew that the Doctor Who season 11 premiere was a huge hit with viewers and critics, but today we’ve received confirmation that it scored the highest viewing figures for a season premiere in the history of the show. “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” clocked up an impressive 10.9 million viewers, making it the biggest drama launch of the year for the BBC.

Impressively, it just squeezed out the 2005 revival premiere, “Rose,” which scored 10.8 million viewers and was the first appearance of Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor (and the first appearance of the Doctor since the show was cancelled in 1989). That was hyped up enormously, so Jodie Whittaker’s debut beating it is no mean feat.

In a statement released this week, here’s what showrunner Chris Chibnall had to share about the achievement:

“On behalf of the entire Doctor Who team, a huge thank you to viewers for taking Jodie’s Doctor and her new friends into their hearts, in such huge numbers. It’s a thrill being deluged with pictures of families snuggled up together, kids (and adults) hiding behind sofas (they actually do that!), and seeing all the extraordinary creative artwork inspired by the show. The journey of the Thirteenth Doctor is only just beginning”

The figures come courtesy of BARB (the Broadcaster’s Audience Research Board), who tally up viewing counts from live and streaming services. Now, this organization only uses data from the UK, but I’d imagine if you totted up the additional audience from the US screenings you’d have an exponentially larger figure. Doctor Who only really found its US fanbase during the tenure of David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, and the show seems to have only gained fans since then.

With Jodie Whittaker saying she’s got plans to be the Doctor for a long while yet, new showrunner Chris Chibnall and the BBC will be hoping that this is a sign of big things to come. There’s a chance that at least some of the audience only tuned in for the premiere to check out the novelty of a woman playing the Doctorbut last week’s outing of Doctor Who did quite well, too, indicating that this new season is a bonafide hit with viewers.

About the author

David James

David James

London-based writer about everything and anything. Willing to crawl over rusty nails to write about Metal Gear Solid or Resident Evil.