Doctor Who Season 12 Ratings Are Actually Not That Bad After All


This season of Doctor Who hasn’t been amazing. The opening two-parter, “Spyfall,” was a dud and some of the following episodes have been very disappointing. However, in the second half the season there’s been a couple of gems, with “The Haunting of Villa Diodati” serving up a classic haunted house story with a very satisfying science fiction twist. Now, the show has begun its two-part finale, beginning with Saturday’s “Ascension of the Cyberman” and concluding on March 1st with “The Timeless Children.”

“Ascension of the Cyberman” ended with the Master leaping out of a portal from an apparently destroyed Gallifrey, enigmatically warning our heroes that things are about to change forever. But for me, what’s going on with Gallifrey isn’t the biggest mystery this week in Doctor Who. Nope, I’m wondering why certain sites are telling easily disprovable lies about the show’s ratings.

Cosmic Book News has been describing season 12’s ratings as “abysmal” for weeks and are now saying the show’s “on life support.” To prove this, they’ve published a list of viewing figures for the series that appear to indicate a massive decline from previous seasons, with “Ascension of the Cybermen” receiving just 3.71 million viewers, apparently the show’s worst ratings since 1986’s “The Mysterious Planet.”

But this is seriously misrepresenting the data. The figures Cosmic Book appear to be using are just those who watch the show on live transmission without taking into account those who use the BBC’s iPlayer catch-up service. For an example of how much a difference these make, this time last week they were claiming that “The Haunting of Villa Diodati” received just 3.86 million viewers. But the figures released by the BBC show that the episode was actually watched by 5.07 million viewers. Granted, this is less than Doctor Who season 11’s record-breaking figures, but it was probably inevitable there’d be some decline after that high.

So, basically, don’t believe every alarmist headline you read, as the ratings when it comes to this particular series aren’t actually quite as bad as they’re being made out to be.