The BBC complaints department responded to the recent backlash over the series finale of Series 12 of Doctor Who, “The Timeless Children.”
Season 12 of Doctor Who currently has a 16% Audience Rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 1.37 out of 5 from 3,210 reviews.
Here’s how fans were describing the show:
H H writes, “The cringe is real, you think it might not be as bad as you think..but it is, good god, why?”
Blake C writes, “Completely retcons all 50 years of story/world building. Jodie Whittaker is a terrible Doctor. She is bland, flat, and does not know how to act like the Doctor. She hasn’t even really watched any of the previous seasons to get an idea on how the Doctor acts. The Doctor has had clear mannerisms throughout all his incarnations, and these are basically completely ignored throughout Whittaker’s time as the Doctor.”
Timothy W writes, “Not real Dr Who, what is this rubbish?”
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James R writes, “Time for a new Dr and and better writing.”
Antonio Mariano N writes, “One of the main problems i have with “the timeless children” arc is because It changes the doctor in a negative way for me. The doctor was different because of the choices he/she made. The doctor was one those who ran by staring at the “void”, the doctor was never part of the “elite” (he/she lived in a barn), the doctor was the time lord who chose to interfer, to break the rules, to help others in need, not because the he/she is “especial”… Genetically especial, being the one to form his/her entire Race, making every single one of the gallifreyans a lil bit of the doctor. What always interested me in the show was that every gallifreyan could do what the doctor chose to do, but didn’t, the doctor being the only one to step up to solve the problems of the universe ( this is me criticizing the whole “order” idea), to just be kind. And as always: Sorry for my bad english.”
Bruce L writes, “OMG, this season was worse than season 11 and I didn’t think that possible! The writing is horrible and the way the writers destroyed the last 55 years of Dr. Who history is disgusting, I for one will no longer watch this trash heap of crap!”
Katrina K writes, “CRAP, CRAP, CRAP, CRAP, CRAP, CRAP. Us the oldies, we made this show we can break it. WAIT you’ve already done that, wirhout any help from us.”
John T writes, “Are you kidding with this finale? I thought the episodes leading up to this were bad, but this is an absolute travesty. THEY RUINED THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE FRANCHISE!”
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Peter L writes, “Chibnall clearly has not watched Doctor who and decided to change everything sciency about the show while seemingly trying to intentionally destroy it for us fans who have watched it for many years.”
Space B writes, “Oh god, 50 years of WHO ruined. This is so beyond horrible that I refuse to call it cannon.”
It wasn’t just folks on Rotten Tomatoes who were expressing their dissatisfaction either.
YouTuber Gary Buechler on his channel Nerdrotic described the past two seasons, “I believe that the last two seasons of Chris Chibnall’s Doctor Who has been a giant middle finger to the fandom. And he wrote that middle finger into [The Timeless Child]. He mocks and patronizes the fans.”
Following this feedback and what appears to be an organic fan campaign to the BBC complaints department, they decided to issue a response.
As reported by Doctor Who TV, it reads:
“Doctor Who is a beloved long-running series and we understand that some people will feel attached to a particular idea they have of the Doctor, or that they enjoy certain aspects of the programme more than others. Opinions are strong and this is indicative of the imaginative hold that Doctor Who has – that so many people engage with it on so many different levels.”
The statement continues:
“We wholeheartedly support the creative freedom of the writers and we feel that creating an origin story is a staple of science fiction writing. What was written does not alter the flow of stories from William Hartnell’s brilliant Doctor onwards – it just adds new layers and possibilities to this ongoing saga.”
“We have also received many positive reactions to the episode’s cliff-hanger. There are still a lot of questions to be answered, and we hope that you will come back to join us and see what happens, but we appreciate that it’s impossible to please all of our viewers all of the time and your feedback has been raised with the programme’s Executive Producer.”
The BBC complaints department had previously responded to complaints regarding Series 12’s “Can You Hear Me?” episode.
That response also provided by Doctor Who TV reads:
“We never set out to upset our viewers with what we show and this episode tackled some sensitive themes. The episode used dreams and nightmares to explore the inner lives of the companions. Thanks to Zellin’s nightmare powers, Ryan, Yaz, and Graham were forced to confront their worst fears, many of which relate to the way traveling with the Doctor has changed their lives.”
“When Graham opened up to the Doctor about his fear of his cancer returning her response was never meant to be dismissive. The Doctor’s friend was scared, and we see her struggling to deal with the severity of the situation. The intention of the scene was to acknowledge how hard it can be to deal with conversations on this subject matter. When faced with these situations, people don’t always have the right words to say at the right time, and this can often lead to feelings of guilt. By showing the Doctor struggling to find the right words, the intention was to sympathise with all those who may have found themselves in a similar position.”
The response concludes:
“We hope this has helped to address your concerns, but please be assured your feedback has been raised with the programme’s Executive Producer.”
Related: BBC’s Piers Wenger Defends Doctor Who Despite Sinking Ratings: “I Don’t Think It’s Been In Better Health Editorially”
The BBC’s Piers Wenger has also defended the show after its viewership numbers plummeted. Wenger stated, “I worked on Doctor Who myself and produced it for many years and I can honestly say I don’t think it’s been in better health editorially.”
He added, “The production values have never been better. It’s also not just funded by the BBC, it’s funded by lots of international partners.”
Wenger then concluded, “It’s an incredibly important show for young audiences, it’s still watched by families in a world where there are fewer shows that have the power to do that. It will always be an important show for us and we’re a very long way from wanting to rest it.”
The Timeless Child’s overnight figures clocked in at 3.78 million, which made it the 49th most watched show in the United Kingdom of the week it aired. It was the second lowest overnight rating of the entire season with the only one performing worse was Episode 9 “Ascension of the Cybermen.”
The premiere episode of the season had an overnight rating of 4.88 million. The show lost almost a quarter of its viewership in just 10 episodes.
RATINGS: Last night’s #DoctorWho finale (Episode 10) averaged 3.78m from 6:50pm on BBC One.
Overnights for the series…
Ep 1: 4.88m
Ep 2: 4.60m
Ep 3: 4.19m
Ep 4: 4.04m
Ep 5: 4.21m
Ep 6: 3.97m
Ep 7: 3.81m
Ep 8: 3.86m
Ep 9: 3.71m
Ep 10: 3.78m
— TVZone (@TVZone_) March 2, 2020
In the United States on BBC America it fared far worse. Ratings for the final episode clocked in at .12 in the 18-49 demographic. Total viewership according to TV Series Finale was only 374,000.
The premiere episode had 790,000 viewers. The show lost over 52% of its total viewership on BBC America in just 10 episodes.
No matter how the BBC wants to defend the show, the numbers are pretty clear that the show is turning off a significant number of viewers who might have otherwise had an interest in Doctor Who.
What do you make of BBC’s defense of Doctor Who’s The Timeless Child?