A month or so ago, people were beginning to get the knives out for Jodie Whittaker’s debut as the Thirteenth Doctor in Doctor Who. Right-wing British tabloids claimed that ratings had “plunged,” explaining that viewers were being turned off by the belief that the show had become painfully politically correct. And of course, the less savory elements of the Doctor Who fandom seized upon this as validation for their stale arguments that the Doctor should only ever be played by a man.
Well, it’s looking as though Whittaker (and new showrunner Chris Chibnall) are going to have the last laugh now, as the average viewership for the full ten-episodes of season 11 is in and it’s 7.7 million viewers. These figures include those who watched the show as it was being broadcast, as well as those who watched it on catch-up up to seven days later.
It should go without saying, but 7.7 million is pretty impressive and makes this latest run of Doctor Who the most successful season in terms of average viewership since Matt Smith’s inaugural outing back in 2010, as well as eclipsing David Tennant’s second season as the Doctor. Obviously, season 11’s average was helped by the gargantuan ratings for the premiere, which netted 10.8m viewers with the following episodes ending up gradually declining, but however you slice it, this is an unambiguous success for the show and the BBC will no doubt be very happy with its new direction.
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Sadly, though, that momentum might fizzle out a bit. Fans were understandably upset when they learned that season 12 had been delayed until 2020, with BBC Entertainment reporter Lizo Mzimba claiming that “Doctor Who has almost uniquely complex filming requirements and a lengthy post-production period.” That sounds like PR speak to me, but I guess I’m happy to wait if the end product’s good.
Thankfully, the New Year’s special will air on January 1st, and if the rumors are right, we may finally get to see Whittaker going to toe-to-toe with one of Doctor Who‘s classic monsters – the Daleks.