Now that the final ‘four screen’ numbers for last week are out, it’s been revealed that The Woman Who Fell to Earth was the most watched program of the entire week.

BARB, the official source of British TV viewing figures, have declared the Doctor Who premiere, The Woman Who Fell to Earth, the most watched television show of last week.

Only last month BARB launched a new ‘four screen’ measurement. It’s intended to better capture how many people were actually watching any given program. In the ever changing landscape of television viewing habits, this gives visibility of the number of viewers not just on television but on PCs, tablets and smartphones as well. The result has been The Woman Who Fell to Earth climbing from its originally reported 10.5m to 10.9m. And from the number three position to the top slot. In the process it pushed the normally invincible Strictly Come Dancing down to being runner up.

While Doctor Who, especially since the 2005 revival, has always been popular, actually winning the week is a rare accomplishment. In fact, in Doctor Who’s fifty year history it’s only topped the chart of five occasions. Journey’s End was the first to manage the feat as it brought the highly rated Series Four to a monumental climax. Both parts of The End of Time were then added to the list as the Tenth Doctor’s song ended. Finally The Day of the Doctor provided the icing on the 50th anniversary cake by beating all other shows to win the week.

Now The Woman Who Fell to Earth has joined that elite club.

Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt - Doctor Who - The Day of the Doctor (c) BBC
The Day of the Doctor, which united Matt Smith, David Tennant and the late Sir John Hurt, was the last time Doctor Who topped the charts (c) BBC

The making of Doctor Who’s greatest BARB hits

Any of the times Doctor Who has secured the top BARB chart position there have been multiple factors at play. The Day of the Doctor was supported by a massive campaign. We had global cinema simulcasts and a gigantic convention in the ExCel in London. It also saw the return of David Tennant to the role for the first time in four years and the mystery of a ‘new’ Doctor played by one of the greatest actors of his generation.

Journey’s End saw the return of Rose Tyler, the climax of a dramatic Dalek storyline. Not to mention the resolution to the spectacular cliffhanger in which David Tennant’s Doctor apparently regenerated. While The End of Time was the send off of a well loved Doctor, combined with prime slots on Christmas and New Year’s Day, and the end of the inaccurately so-called ‘gap year’ that left audiences crying out for a Who fix.

And The Woman Who Fell to Earth’s barnstorming success isn’t just down to Jodie Whittaker. The show’s been strongly supported by the BBC this year. There’s been cinema ads, billboards, a gala premiere and wide media coverage. It’s also been promoted to a prestigious Sunday evening slot. It had both a strong lead in from Countryfile and was in front of ratings dynamite Strictly Come Dancing. While bringing in Chris Chibnall, creator of the massively popular Broadchurch, was always likely to bring in new viewers. Chibnall fans, rather than Doctor Who fans, who tuned in to at least try out his new show.

Doctor Who - Series 11 - Portrait - The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) - (C) BBC Studios/ BBC - Photographer: Elliot Wilcox
Doctor Who – Series 11 – Portrait – The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) – (C) BBC Studios/ BBC – Photographer: Elliot Wilcox

The Woman Who Fell to the Top

Some have attempted to use those factors dismissively – to say Series 11 is off to a cracking start ‘only’ because of such factors. That is essentially to say that extraordinary results don’t count if they’re ‘only’ because you did your job extremely well. On the contrary BBC Wales and BBC Studios should be congratulated for their smart decisions and hard work.

But it can’t be said enough, Jodie Whittaker has been a massive part of this victory. Not just because of that ‘first female Doctor’ tag (the ‘moment’, as Whittaker herself has said, that she’s proud to be a part of, but which she can’t wait to pass as she simply becomes ‘the Doctor’). But also because she’s so perfect for the role. And because of the charm offensive she’s launched on the world over the past number of months. Sparky, witty, with just a touch of goofy; with every panel appearance or media interview she’s won over both fans and the general public. Being ‘Doctor Who’ has always been a dual role. The lead is both on set actor and public ambassador. And the show has been gifted once again with someone superb in both roles.

It’s fifty-five years since its birth, and thirteen years since Doctor Who returned to our screens. It could be excused for slowing down a little in its old age. Instead, it’s a show as fresh as ever. And, as The Woman Who Fell to Earth proves, as capable of scaling new heights.


Graham (BRADLEY WALSH), Ryan (TOSIN COLE), The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER), Yaz (MANDIP GILL) - (C) BBC / BBC Studios - Photographer: Henrik Knudsen
Graham (BRADLEY WALSH), Ryan (TOSIN COLE), The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER), Yaz (MANDIP GILL) – (C) BBC / BBC Studios – Photographer: Henrik Knudsen

The Doctor Who adventure continues…

Doctor Who continues on BBC One at 6.55pm this Sunday with Rosa by Malorie Blackman. Series 11 stars Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), Mandip Gill (Yasmin Khan), Bradley Walsh (Graham O’Brien), and Tosin Cole (Ryan Sinclair). Rosa guest stars Vinette Robinson as Rosa Parks and Josh Bowman as Krasko.

“If she can live here her whole life, a couple of hours ain’t gonna kill me. They ain’t gonna kill me, right?” Montgomery, Alabama. 1955. The Doctor and her friends find themselves in the Deep South of America. As they encounter a seamstress by the name of Rosa Parks, they begin to wonder: is someone attempting to change history?



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