We take a look at the Doctor Who ratings from 2010 to 2013, when Matt Smith was at the TARDIS helm. Which were the most popular Eleventh Doctor episodes?
5) The Eleventh Hour
It’s no surprise that Matt Smith’s debut episode was one of the highest in the Doctor Who ratings, achieving a final figure of 10.09 million. This is usually the case for new Doctors, although in Matt Smith’s case ‘The Eleventh Hour’ became something of an instant classic, with the phrase “Prisoner Zero will vacate the human residence or the human residence will be incinerated” firmly etched into many a fan’s mind.
Moreover, ‘The Eleventh Hour’ saw the introduction of two of Doctor Who‘s most popular companions – Amy Pond and Rory Williams – who, spoiler alert, would later become the parents of the infamous River Song. In addition, there were guest appearances from comedy actors Annette Crosbie and Perry Benson, plus a cameo from the celebrity astronomer Sir Patrick Moore.
And who could possibly forget the debut of the Eleventh Doctor’s bow tie and tweed…?
4) The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe
Another high scorer in the Doctor Who ratings was the 2011 Christmas special ‘The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe’ with a final figure of 10.77 million. This was Matt Smith’s second festive outing as the Eleventh Doctor, and continued showrunner Steven Moffat’s penchant for Christmas specials that were rooted in traditional family favourites, this one being inspired by the C.S. Lewis novel ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.’
The Doctor’s companions Amy and Rory were noticeably absent from this adventure (for the most part), but in their stead we had guest appearances from Claire Skinner, Bill Bailey and Alexander Armstrong. The latter was already known to Doctor Who fans as the voice of Sarah Jane Smith’s supercomputer Mr Smith.
Another notable part of ‘The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe’ was the throwback to the Fifth Doctor adventure ‘The Caves of Androzani.’ In this episode, we met a team of tree harvesters from the planet Androzani Major, which first featured in the 1984 Peter Davison story.
A regeneration story usually sees an increase in the Doctor Who ratings, and Matt Smith’s swansong was no exception. But unlike previous departures, the Eleventh Doctor’s was quite hurried, with little build-up to the event in preceding stories (except, of course, the fleeting cameo of Peter Capaldi in ‘The Day of the Doctor.’)
In this case, the Doctor Who ratings came in at an impressive 11.14 million, with the adventure arguably benefiting from being a Christmas special. Moreover, ‘The Time of the Doctor’ came only a few weeks after the show’s 50th anniversary, and the story still had something of a celebratory atmosphere, with guest appearances from Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, the Silence, the Weeping Angels, the Time Lords (in a way) and the Monoids – at least, in puppet form. There was also a surprise appearance from Amy Pond in the closing moments, plus of course the dramatic arrival of the new Doctor Peter Capaldi.
‘The Time of the Doctor‘ also tied up a number of loose threads from the Eleventh Doctor’s era. Fans finally learned who blew up the Doctor’s TARDIS in ‘The Pandorica Opens,’ plus the true meaning of the phrase, “Silence will fall when the question is asked.” In addition, the truth about the Doctor’s fall on the fields of Trenzalore was also revealed – something that had been alluded to in ‘The Wedding of River Song’ and ‘The Name of the Doctor.’
2) A Christmas Carol
The Eleventh Doctor’s first Christmas special performed excellently in the Doctor Who ratings, pulling in an audience of 12.11 million viewers. Inspired by the Charles Dickens novel of the same name, ‘A Christmas Carol’ featured Michael Gambon as the villainous Kazran Sardick, who was the Scrooge character of this adventure. He starred alongside the opera singer Katherine Jenkins, who played Sardick’s tragic love interest Abigail, and again, Amy and Rory took a back seat in this special; they spent most of the story trapped on a crashing spaceship!
‘A Christmas Carol’ was certainly one of the more unusual Doctor Who adventures, set on a planet where fish swam freely in mid air. But it oozed festive charm and paid a respectable homage to Dickens’ original novel, whilst offering a new take on the concept of a bad man turning good in a typically timey wimey Doctor Who way.
And as is the case with many festive specials, the Doctor Who ratings benefitted from having a Christmas Day timeslot, but ‘A Christmas Carol’ is still fondly remembered as a classic Doctor Who story that shows Matt Smith firing on all cylinders as the incumbent Time Lord.
The Doctor Who 50th anniversary special has one of the highest Doctor Who ratings of all time. The official UK figure was 12.80 million, but the complete figure is probably much higher than this as the story was given a worldwide simulcast as well as a limited theatrical release. As such, we may never know the full Doctor Who ratings for this adventure.
That being said, there is no doubt that ‘The Day of the Doctor’ is widely regarded as one of the greatest Doctor Who stories of all time, with the return of many fan favourites including David Tennant, Tom Baker, Billie Piper, the Zygons, UNIT, the Daleks, and the Time Lords. This story also saw the introduction of a brand new ‘forgotten’ incarnation of the Doctor known as the War Doctor played by John Hurt who, it transpired, came between the Eighth and Ninth incarnations.
‘The Day of the Doctor’ also filled in some of the gaps in the Doctor Who mythos, including the truth about what really happened during the Time War. The adventure also pointed to the future with the arrival of the mysterious Curator played by Tom Baker, who hinted at being one of the Time Lord’s future incarnations.
All in all, ‘The Day of the Doctor’ was a true classic of the Eleventh Doctor’s era, and it’s no surprise that it tops the list of Doctor Who ratings for his time in the TARDIS.
What do you think of these Doctor Who ratings? Which is your favourite episode? And were you one of the people watching as the episodes went out? Let me know in the comments below.
Pandorica Opens scarf – order now from the Lovarzi shop!