Though the BBC may be attempting to sound the fanfare for Jodie Whittaker’s final outing as the first female incarnation of the eponymous Doctor, fans appear to be less than thrilled, as the season premiere of the actress’ final season of Doctor Who has debuted to the worst ratings since the series was revived in 2005.
As noted by BBC journalist Lizo Mzimba following the premiere of ‘Chapter One: The Halloween Apocalypse,’ though “The Doctor Who series opener was watched by an overnight audience of 4.43 million,” and posted numbers “higher than most of S12’s overnights,” its viewership numbers were not “as high as S12 opener Spyfall (4.88m).”
Not only did the debut episode of Doctor Who: Flux – the subtitle given to the short ordered thirteenth season’s interconnected six-part story – fail to perform with audiences compared to the previous season opener, but its total viewing numbers also fell short of Whittaker’s season 11 debut in 2018, which pulled in a total of roughly 10.96 million viewers in the UK alone.
“Interesting to see if the one story for 6 eps means figures rise rather than the usual fall over the series,” he continued,. “Also worth noting that Spyfall Part One was a New Year’s Day Special. If the one overall storyline/cliffhangers format keeps figures at this level or sees a rise, will be excellent news. But if it falls at the rate of the last series, then it’s already starting from a lower base.”
However, as concluded by Mzimba, “consolidated figures will tell [the] real story, but traditionally show is mostly watched on evening that it’s on.”
“And it adds a fairly consistent amount overnight. But we won’t have [a] fuller picture for a few weeks,” he added. “Right now, it’s in ‘not brilliant, not terrible’ territory.”
Interestingly, the reporter also found that the “last 5 minutes had much higher viewing figure of 5.41m,” though he explained that this bump was caused by viewers tuning in early to watch the next program, which happened to be the latest episode of the long-running British reality dance competition, Strictly Come Dancing.
The last time Doctor Who’s numbers were below 5 million was with the Season 12 finale of the Timeless Children. That episode brought in 4.69 million viewers. It was the least viewed since Meglos: Part Three, which aired in October 1980.
If the numbers for The Halloween Apocalypse don’t improve from the overnight figures it will become the least viewed episode of Doctor Who since The Leisure Hive: Part Four, which aired in September 1980 and saw 4.5 million people tune in.
As noted above, the thirteenth season of Doctor Who is being presented as a special six-part story in which the Doctor attempts to discover the truth behind the Crimean War, her own history, and a mysterious new enemy known as Flux.
The official synopsis, as provided by the BBC, states, “Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, John Bishop and Jacob Anderson star in an epic six-part adventure which will take the Doctor and her friends to the edge of the universe and beyond, in a battle for survival.”
It adds, “Packed with action, humour, terrifying new villains and iconic returning monsters such as the Sontarans and the Weeping Angels, the new series of Doctor Who tells one story across a vast canvas.”
“It features a host of acclaimed British acting talent including Rochenda Sandall, Annabel Scholey, Craig Parkinson, Kevin McNally, Sam Spruell, Robert Bathurst, Steve Oram and Thaddea Graham,” the description continues.
Finally, it concludes, “From Liverpool to the depths of space, via the Crimean war and a planet named Atropos which shouldn’t even exist, fighting old foes and new creatures from beyond our dimension, the Doctor and company face a race against (and through!) time to uncover a universe-spanning mystery: what is the Flux?
What do you make of Doctor Who: Flux’s premiere numbers? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!