Doctor Who boss defends show's ratings

russell t davies at the doctor who premiere
Doctor Who boss defends show's ratingsGetty Images

Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies has defended the show's ratings following changes to its release schedule.

The show has shifted to a streaming-first release model, with each new episode in season 14 premiering on Saturdays at midnight on BBC iPlayer in the UK and Disney+ internationally before getting a BBC One airing later that evening.

This significant change in the way Doctor Who is consumed has meant that overnight TV ratings for the series have dipped at times this year, though it's important to note those overnight figures don't take seven-day streaming figures into account.

According to The Radio Times, the showrunner addressed complaints about Doctor Who's ratings at a Q&A event called Russell T Davies – BAFTA: A Life in Pictures.

russell t davies at the doctor who premiere
Getty Images

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"In coming back, I wanted to make it simpler, and I wanted to make it younger. Those two things are often not discussed – you read reactions to it and people are missing that," he explained.

"It's simpler and younger – and it is working. The under-16s and the 16-34 audience as well is massive. It's not doing that well in the ratings, but it is doing phenomenally well with the younger audience that we wanted."

While some episodes in season 14 haven't pulled in the overnight viewing figures one might expect, there have also been unexpected successes.

The Doctor-lite episode '73 Yards' actually notched the highest ratings for the season up to that point, though delayed viewing figures may well see another episode end up even higher.

Earlier this year, Davies defended making an international streaming deal with Disney for season 14 as a way to stave off Doctor Who ending.

doctor who star ncuti gatwa and showrunner russell t davies hug and smile at the baftas

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"You’ve got to look in the long term at the end of the BBC, which is undoubtedly on its way in some shape or form," he told the podcast They Like to Watch.

"Is Doctor Who going to die then? No! You’ve got to prepare for that kind of stuff."

Doctor Who debuts new episodes at midnight on Saturday, airing on BBC One in the UK and Disney+ elsewhere. Classic episodes of Doctor Who are available on BBC iPlayer in the UK.

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