Various unsavory corners of the media were practically salivating this week at the ‘news’ that Jodie Whittaker’s first season as the Doctor was turning into a ratings disaster. The Sun and The Daily Mail claimed that ratings had ‘plunged’ after viewers were apparently turned off by “politically correct plots” and *those* gross and sticky corners of the internet leapt upon these stories like rabid dogs, eager for proof that they were right all along when they said Doctor Who would never work with a woman in the lead role.
And it’s true, ratings have declined from the show’s premiere “The Woman Who Fell to Earth.” That episode racked up a total of 10.95m viewers, whereas by episode 5, “The Tsuranga Conundrum,” they’d shed more the 3m viewers for a total of 7.76m. Looking at those figures alone you might conclude that any TV show that’s lost 3m viewers is in deep trouble.
But let’s take a step back and look at this in a wider context. First off, “The Woman Who Fell To Earth” broke series’ records to become the biggest launch for the show in its history. That’s simply not something that can be replicated every week, as there’ll always be viewers who tune in for the ‘event’ episodes and might not return for the show’s bread n’ butter midseason stories.
The exact same thing happened back in the first season of the revival in 2005, where the much-hyped premiere “Rose” was viewed by 10.91m viewers, but lost 4m viewers over the course of the run. Similar drops have occurred in each and every season of the show, too.
On top of that, if you compare the viewing figures to previous seasons, it becomes apparent that Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor might actually be doing better than every other previous incarnation. Looking at average viewers per episode, the current highest-rated season is in 2008 with David Tennant and Catherine Tate, with an average of 8.05m per episode. Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor is currently hitting an average of 8.55m per episode, and while that could fall as Doctor Who goes on, there’s no way it’s going to drop to alarming levels.
So, once again, don’t believe everything you read. And certainly don’t believe whatever you read in The Sun and The Daily Mail.