Home Series 13 Chapter 2: War of the Sontarans Doctor Who Viewing Figures Update: Sontaran +7 and Once, Upon Time Overnights

Doctor Who Viewing Figures Update: Sontaran +7 and Once, Upon Time Overnights

The Sontaran leader (Jonathan Watson) prepares to launch the War of the Sontarans - (C) BBC Studios - Photographer: James Pardon

The +7 viewing figures for War of the Sontarans are here, along with the overnights for Once, Upon Time

BARB have now revealed both the full week’s viewing figures for War of the Sontarans and the initial overnights result for yesterday’s Once, Upon Time. Doctor Who: Flux’s second chapter, War of the Sontarans has now been seen by 5.1m viewers. That’s up 1.4m on its original overnight result, an increase of 28.8%. It’s down by 0.69m (11.9%) from series opener Halloween Apocalypse, and also down 0.93m (15.3%) from last year’s second episode Spyfall Part Two. On the other hand, this actually represents slightly better retention than normal. The typical +7 drop from premiere to second episode for Doctor Who has been 12.8% historically. And it’s certainly an improvement on the current era’s previous performance in this area, with Series 11 and Series 12 averaging a 15% drop from their first to second episodes.

War of the Sontarans also finished at #13 in the chart for the week. Again, this is slightly above average for a second episode, with previous examples averaging out at #15 in the chart. Last year’s Spyfall Part Two was #16 so, again, Flux is so far representing an improvement on last year’s performance against the competition.


Sara Powell as Mary Seacole in Ch 2 - War of the Sontarans- (C) BBC Studios - Photographer: James Pardon Doctor Who Crimean War TARDIS Police Box
Sara Powell as Mary Seacole in War of the Sontarans- (C) BBC Studios – Photographer: James Pardon

Doctor Who’s #13 chart placing saw it once more beat everything but Strictly Come Dancing last weekend

Today television programs of all stripes are under increasing pressure from streaming, gaming, and simply a massive amount of choice. Within that Doctor Who is doing a credible job of maintaining more loyalty from its audience than most. For instance, for the second week in a row Who beat every single edition of EastEnders – something which once upon a time would have seemed impossible. In fact, it was the BBC’s second biggest show of the day, after Strictly Come Dancing: The Results. It was fourth for the week, too, after the two Strictly shows and detective drama Shetland.

It also, once more for the second week in a row, beat every single program on ITV (and every other non-BBC channel) for the entire weekend. Only ITV’s soaps, Coronation Street and Emmerdale, placed higher than Doctor Who for the week. While Channel 4’s only entry in the chart was the Great British Bake Off. It all adds up to Doctor Who being the second biggest drama across all channels for the whole week.


The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) prepares to relive the original assault on Atropos, with her friends (Mandip Gill, John Bishop, Jacob Anderson) standing in for her old team – (C) BBC Studios – Photographer: Ben Blackall

Although only initial figures, the Once, Upon Time overnights suggest a relatively stable trend for Doctor Who: Flux

Meanwhile, the initial overnight viewing figures for last night’s time-bending third chapter of Flux are also now available. Once, Upon Time was seen by 3.76m people overnight. That’s down 0.2m (5%) on the overnights for War of the Sontarans. That’s remarkably steady, all things considered, and certainly a lower drop from episode 2 to episode 3 as with Series 11 (10%) or Series 12 (9%). The overall impression is that thus far at least, the serial storytelling of Flux is succeeding in improving viewer retention.

Whether that holds true for next week’s Village of the Angels remains to be seen. While it appears to have been necessary connective tissue for Flux, the knotty web of subplots flowing through Once, Upon Time may make the whole storyline feel inaccessible to some. This may be for a longer than typical Next Time trailer at the end of the episode. That preview emphasized the very direct focus of next week’s episode about a village under siege from Weeping Angels.

We’re still three weeks away from having the final +28 viewing figures for even the first episode of Flux. The entire series will actually be over and done before we have the final numbers for War of the Sontarans. But it will be interesting to keep watch, in the coming weeks, on whether or not Series 13 can maintain this trend of relative viewing figures stability.


Doctor Who Flux – Annabel Scholey – (C) BBC Studios – Photographer: James Pardon

Doctor Who: Flux continues this Sunday at 6.20pm on BBC One, and on BBC America in the US, with Chapter Four: Village of the Angels

Devon, November 1967. A little girl has gone missing, Professor Eustacius Jericho is conducting psychic experiments, and in the village graveyard, there is one gravestone too many. Why is Medderton known as the Cursed Village, and what do the Weeping Angels want?




  1. The series is fortunate it appears to be doing so well, given the nature of the story being told. No one can object to a complex storyline (it is a science fiction based format after all) but I have a concern that “complexity” might turn out to mean “total nonsense” by the end of this run. I watched Sunday’s episode with a puzzled frown most of the time and I have watched it for most of it’s 60 years. The whole thing seemed to be a series of twists and turns designed to demonstate a “something’s wrong with time” situation but different characters being perceived as Yaz, Dan etc. was confusing. Then the “former Doctor we didn’t know about” reappeared to add to it. No effort seems to be spent on making the
    characters sympathetic, they are story functions (these are the villains because they are malevolent, these are the companions because the Doctor has companions). Hopefully by the end there will be a rational explanation for what the hell’s going on!

  2. The Flux has lost me. Incoherent mess that seems to have equated complexity with good story telling. I can’t see many kids bothering to follow it if even adults are confused. It reminds me of The Chase which still made more sense. But for the moment, I’m giving up after watching since 1963.

  3. Nobody is pretending anything, it was a well rounded look at the viewing figures, placing them in context of previous series and the wider British TV scene. I hadn’t paid much attention to viewing figures lately so was surprised to see Doctor Who out performing EastEnders. I hadn’t realised it’s relative strength compared to Emmerdale, Coronation Street and other drama output.


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