It’s time to return to everyone’s favourite topic – Doctor Who ratings! Which were the most popular Twelfth Doctor episodes?
Whilst the Twelfth Doctor wrestled to find out if he was a good man or not, it seems the UK public were equally curious. Peter Capaldi’s Doctor fared well in the Doctor Who ratings between 2014 and 2017, with many of the Time Lord’s most popular episodes being the Christmas specials. Here are the top five Twelfth Doctor episodes, listed according to their viewing figures…
5) The Husbands of River Song
An unusual title, and one that promised the return of one of Doctor Who‘s most popular time travellers – Professor River Song, played by Alex Kingston. The Doctor Who ratings came in at 7.83 million for this 2015 festive special, which finally delivered the scene that fans had been clamouring to see for seven years – the Doctor and River’s last night at the Singing Towers of Darillium. And to date, ‘The Husbands of River Song’ marks Alex Kingston’s final appearance in the programme.
Is she due a return…?
4) The Return of Doctor Mysterio
The worlds of Marvel and Doctor Who have collided many times over the years (as we wrote about in this piece.) But you could be forgiven for thinking that ‘The Return of Doctor Mysterio’ was yet another superhero crossover, set in the beating heart of New York City and featuring a nod or two to such popular franchises as Spider-Man and Superman.
Certainly, this 2016 special performed well in the Doctor Who ratings, with some 7.83 million people tuning in to see the Doctor and the heroic Ghost tackle an existential threat to planet Earth. Matt Lucas also returned as the Doctor’s comedic companion Nardole (played by Matt Lucas) who had been introduced in the previous year’s ‘The Husbands of River Song.’ He would go on to become a full-time companion.
‘The Return of Doctor Mysterio’ was also a stand-out event in 2016, as it was the only Doctor Who episode to be broadcast that year, paving the way for Series Ten the following spring.
As for the title, it was a subtle in-joke for hardcore Whovians, as Doctor Mysterio was the name given to the Mexican version of Doctor Who.
3) Twice Upon a Time
Regeneration episodes often see a rise in the Doctor Who ratings, and 2017’s ‘Twice Upon a Time’ was no exception. This was Peter Capaldi’s final outing as the Twelfth Doctor, and acted as something of a crossover with the first regeneration story ‘The Tenth Planet,’ with David Bradley reprising his role as the First Doctor from the docudrama ‘An Adventure in Space and Time.’
And the Doctor Who ratings were high for Capaldi’s final story, with 7.92 million people tuning into see his historic regeneration into Jodie Whittaker (historic because it marked the first time in the series’ history that the Doctor had regenerated into a woman – unless you count the many regenerations showcased in 2020’s ‘The Timeless Children.’)
‘Twice Upon a Time’ also included lots of interesting moments for long-time fans of the show, with several scenes from ‘The Tenth Planet’ being recreated in full-colour and high definition. There was also the surprise return of Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald, plus ‘Rusty’ the Dalek from one of Capaldi’s very first episodes (a tale that also scored highly in the Doctor Who ratings, with 7.29 million viewers tuning in for ‘Into the Dalek.’)
Finally, ‘Twice Upon a Time’ was a milestone adventure for long-time Doctor Who writer and showrunner Steven Moffat, who handed the baton to Chris Chibnall at the end of this story. Also leaving was composer Murray Gold, who had been writing for the series since its revival in 2005. He now stands as one of Doctor Who‘s longest-serving composers, having stayed with the show for over 12 years.
2) Last Christmas
Capaldi’s second highest scorer in the Doctor Who ratings was 2014’s ‘Last Christmas’ – the Twelfth Doctor’s first Christmas special and, arguably, one of the darkest festive specials the show has ever seen. This adventure was similar in tone to science fiction horror movies such as The Thing and the original Alien, with a healthy dose of Inception thrown into the mix.
Viewers were also poised to learn if long-time companion Clara Oswald would be staying with the show, with her departure being teased many times over the last year. In truth, the actor Jenna Coleman was, herself, unsure if she’d stick with the show, with the title ‘Last Christmas’ further tapping into this uncertainty.
There was even a moment at the end of the episode that further fanned the flames, with the Doctor visiting Clara at home and meeting her as an old woman, having arrived back too late. Of course (spoiler alert) this was just a dream, and it wasn’t long before the Twelfth Doctor and Clara were once again heading out to explore the universe.
In terms of the Doctor Who ratings, ‘Last Christmas’ had an impressive 8.28 million people tuning in.
1) Deep Breath
Perhaps appropriately, Peter Capaldi’s most popular episode in the Doctor Who ratings was his first one – ‘Deep Breath’ – which premiered in August 2014. Some 9.17 million people tuned in for the Twelfth Doctor’s debut, which was set in Victorian London and saw the return of the ever-popular Paternoster Gang, plus the clockwork droids from one of Steven Moffat’s first Doctor Who scripts ‘The Girl in the Fireplace.’
Of course, the real viewing figures for ‘Deep Breath’ could be much higher, as the BBC took the rare move of simulcasting the episode in UK cinemas, something it previously done with the 50th anniversary special ‘The Day of the Doctor.’
Of course, the Doctor Who ratings are usually much higher for a new Doctor’s first story. The same was true when Jodie Whittaker first appeared in ‘The Woman who Fell to Earth’ – an episode that was also the highest-rated of her tenure. It remains to be seen if this trend will continue when the Fourteenth Doctor arrives in November 2023.
In the meantime, what do you think of these Doctor Who ratings? Are these your favourite Twelfth Doctor episodes? Let me know in the comments below.
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