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Why is Doctor Who losing ratings?

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Another series of Doctor Who, another wave of media reports that the ratings are crashing dramatically. The Sun has gone as far as to suggest that the BBC were forcing Peter Capaldi out, blaming his old age for the reason viewers were switching over. While there has been little else to back up The Sun’s claims, viewing figures have seen a decline, averaging 2 million viewers under what Tennant could bring in during the peak of the show’s popularity. With viewing figures declining so drastically, it seems an examination of the show’s problems are in order.  

Quite simply, one key reason is that the way we are watch TV is changing. With the advent of iPlayer, Netflix and the like watching programmes live has become increasingly irrelevant for a binge-watch/on-demand hungry crowd. Few dramas have decade-old viewing figures to compare to, and while the press often likes to dramatize the fall in overnight viewing figures it is somewhat of a trend among the TV industry. The show will likely never regain the 10 million plus overnight viewers the revival could pull in over a decade ago, but that is not necessarily a loss, and the BBC is clearly cottoning on by making Series 10 available to binge for a month after it finished.

A brand new female Doctor in the form of Jodie Whittaker signals that the BBC has faith in the show

However, overnight figures aside the overall average viewing figures have dropped, and this must be blamed on the show itself. From personal experience I have seen many fellow viewers become disillusioned with the show particularly after Steven Moffat took over as showrunner, and is something the press have picked up on also. The key complaint is easily that the show has become increasingly over-complex and nonsensical, especially for a family show, with Moffat seen as being self-indulgent with his scripts and convoluting existing mythology. Combined with an increasing number of duff episodes, poor villains and some divisive storylines (see the Monks three-parter, or indeed the Doctor’s relationship with River Song), the problems soon start stacking up.

The Sun was not alone in suggesting that Capaldi himself was the problem – too old, too grumpy, trying too hard with sunglasses and a guitar – a mighty shame as Capaldi is a mighty fine actor and a wonderful Doctor. Even worse was the erratic scheduling – the show has experimented with splitting series in two, spring and autumn launch dates, increasingly later air times and worst of all a complete absence in 2016 save for a Christmas special. With a lack of consistency in both show quality and scheduling, one can see why some viewers have switched off in their millions, despite solid work from Capaldi and some truly great episodes.

However, does this mean the show is in trouble? Even if ratings have dropped somewhat in the UK, they have only continued to grow abroad, especially in America. The show also likely makes too much from DVD sales, merchandising, and overseas licensing for a ratings dip to cause too much trouble – a recent deal with a Chinese broadcaster included the upcoming series 11-15, suggesting that Doctor Who will be safe for many years to come. While viewership may have slipped, a brand new female Doctor in the form of Jodie Whittaker signals that the BBC has faith in the show, and she has every chance to pull those figures up again.

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Comments (7)

  • While viewership may have slipped, a brand new female Doctor in the form of Jodie Whittaker signals that the BBC has faith in the show, and she has every chance to pull those figures up again.

    end of quote. jodie whitaker wont save doctor who. How do you know doctor who is losing viewers because of lack of diversity? what if jodie whitaker does not bring new fans? you thought of that? you may think this is a bold gamble which the bbc seems in favor of boldness. However, I feel the move is p.c. and divisive. What doctor who has done is split the fandom in two some for jodie whitaker (sjw liberals) and traditionalists (those opposed to diversity and social justice) It was affirmative action for chicks! Have you seen Jodies racy screen past? Not very kid friendly. Why does the new doctor have to be a woman? We are diluting the essense of the character. The doctor has shown male characteristics over the years. Not sexist, fact. Im sure some feminists are not pleased shes white and shes a woman. Some feminists want a black, transvetite. You see what happens when you dilute a character to please a intense lobbying effort by feminist groups and individuals on twitter! Why cant the boys have male role models? Why is that bad? the doctor is turning into a political football. the hard left wants to make him a symbol of white privilege. Why are they so angry (online & in the industry)? The doc over the years being a man only has come to represent masculine (positive) masculine virtues. Why do chicks want to chickify everything. im afraid jodie wants to turn the tardis full of bras. #nursewho # tardisofloveandfeelings. Why dont they make new shows that pander to feminists. Feminists are angry lesbians who are whining and moaning that the female characters are supplementary to the man! oh no, they want to be our equal and they wont stop until theyve kicked us in the balls time and time again! You realize chicks taking over male franchises arent going to help sexism (cough, cough) it will lead to violence against women (not that i advocate violence). Liberals are hysterical analysising every cinematic production with the bechdel test. Listen folks you cant equate and legislate diversity outcomes. Theres going to be inequality. Sorry! Thats life. When you force people to conform to liberal orthodoxy (to accept diversity) (target” conservatives)they will become passive agressive (traditional gender role believers). It will explode unto social media. Thank God for social media. Its like a tiwn hall for discussion. This is free speech not hate speech, ok! Case in point Donald trump elected; why ? Common man throwing off muzzle (Shakles of p.c.) Besides how does the bbc have faith in the show? They canceled it in the 90s. They have faith in a liberal divisive casting decision. and exclude conservative views. (keep calm and carry on mind set) How was capaldi bad? Did you see hell bent? and face the raven? I Didnt mind the grumpiness. (hartnell was grumpy, t. baker was c. baker was) He is a good guitar player. Peter capaldi was not eye candy yes i get this and did i miss the flirtation between the doctor and clara yes but peter brought a much needed old school feel to the character #oldwho. Peter capaldi is an amazing actor! on screen, he brings the machismo. off screen, hes more low key and a little bit liberal. Doctor whos viewership is changing not everyone can sit down in front of the tv set. Some of us have school, work, college. Some are watching on their devices (ipad, computer, phone, laptop) some watch online (legally netflix, itunes, some illegally)

  • The problem was not with the show or the actors it was with the scheduling putting it on too late for the younger contingent of the fans and at a time where teenagers go out. No repeating it on BBC 2, like it used to do is another mistake – well it was on at 2 am the following Friday but that’s not much good for fans that prefer to look at it on TV.

    Moffat and Capaldi did talk about its issue but it fell on deaf ears, after all the build up and hype about Capaldi when he started they didn’t follow through for the show. Capaldi bounced all over the globe promoting DW but BBC ignored it.. there used to be reruns of the last few series during the summer, during Capaldi’s there hasn’t been a sigle one. …apart from the announcemen of #13 that’s been it until Xmas!!!

    Do they want it to fail ? They’d a brilliant opportunity with Capaldi as Doctor Who to rejuvenate DW, instead they ignored him. No wonder the ratings are going down.

    As for the hiatus – why couldn’t they have been straight with everyone and said Capaldi had had an operation and needed time off – people would have understood. The during that there were no reruns of Capaldi’s prior series.

    Then that ad – “The Doctor and Clara Oswald in the tardis same old, same old” – disaterous publicity for any DW – it should have been egnimatic enough to make people curious as to what the programme is about for new viewers- so they would want to see it. As for spoiler trailers – get rid of most of them only one short one to get people interested.

    Why go to all the trouble of killing a person off in DW only for them to miraculously appear alive and well in the next episode – if they’re dead they’re dead – Adric/Peri didn’t make a reappearance and that’s the way it should be. Let’s face it Clara was eye candy for the male viewers but, dull as diswater for the rest of us – the addition of Danny only made them even more annoying.
    Lastly, BBC stand behind it’s decisions to hire Doctors – people may have out about the new one – they always have – what i’s new?. They get used to it once they see them in action – and really if they stop looking at DW because of silly reasons like age, appearance, or accent well, I hope # 13 keeps her original accent and confuses the hell out of them all – time they learned there are worse accents that Scots ones.

  • Rev Magister

    The end is near I’m afraid. Where’s the Watcher when you need him? I’ll miss you Doctor. The great PC war had your number all along, not a trial, not the Daleks or the Master. Not even the last great Time War or Trenzalore. RIP my hero.

  • DITTO. RIP my hero. killed by the pc feminazi movement

  • Common Sense SJW (apparently)

    Hey guys, have you though that maybe it isn’t so-called feminazis that made the Doctor a woman, it’s common sense? The viewers are increasingly women and girls. No one can afford to cater to a patriarchal view point left over from the 1960s. Face it, gender is fluid for someone that has a fluid personality. The Doctor won’t even notice the change, since s/he changes so much each time any way. The sixth is as unlike the fist as the upcoming Doctor will ever be. Gender is not the main character trait, nor the most important.

    Nor is it the point of this article. So if you hate the show, stop watching. That’s what everyone else has done as it has soldiered on under Moffatt with the exact same story as it had 50+ years ago. If you don’t hate it that much, do what I do and rewatch the parts you love. But don’t waste time and energy fighting a change that was as good for the viewers as it is for the business. I tried when Moffatt took over and all that’s happened is I’ve disagreed with people for five years.

    The point of the article is to discuss what has gotten ratings down, and since there are no ratings for the series headed by a woman actor your rantings are as completely out of place as they are uneducated.

    I for one welcome any changes. I love the new TARDIS look. I’m not happy about the Doctor’s new outfit, but we’ll see. I’m also worried about Chibnall, since I think his Silurian reboots were awful. But change is what this show needs, since the Moffatt era has tried and failed to maintain a Doctor and companion flirtation with dark story lines most reminiscent of the painful fifth-Doctor era. It’s the convoluted story lines and creepy sexist weirdness (Clara’s short skirt, looking up Amy’s skirt, meeting all companions as little girls) that turn people like me off. If there are more of us out there then that’s part of the slippage. And change can solve that.

  • Star Superion

    The doctor who viewership isn’t increasingly becoming more girls…fake geek girls maybe, they like to cosplay, but rarely watch the show. That premise and notion is complete Rubbish.

  • Ratings are down. It isn’t rocket science. BBC can claim all they want that ‘Bill’ is a big hit with viewers and they can post anonymously all over the net how ‘great’ she is. Every fan I’ve talked to can’t STAND her! For every black, lesbian, feminist fan, there are a hundred ‘traditional’ viewers and families who are tired of having minority, gay/lesbian/transgender agendas shoved down our throats, but the minute we voice our opinions, we’re labelled as ‘racist’ or ‘intolerant’. How dare we, etc. It isn’t popular to voice our love for the traditional family anymore. Maybe thats what the ‘silent majority’ of the viewing public wants. And the ratings reflect it. The majority of viewers apparently don’t like your forced agendas, BBC. Take a hint.

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