Alex Kingston as River Song - Doctor Who: The Husbands of Rover Song (c) BBC
Alex Kingston as River Song – Doctor Who: The Husbands of Rover Song (c) BBC

The Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) has released the final and positive viewing figures for the 2015 Doctor Who Christmas special The Husbands of River Song.

The story was written by executive producer Steven Moffat and starred Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor and Alex Kingston, returning to the role of River Song. It aired at 5.15 pm on Christmas Day.

The overnight figure indicated 5.77 million people had tuned in, but over the following week this number rose by 1.92 million to give an impressive final viewing figure of 7.69 million. This meant the hour-long festive episode was the eighth highest-rated programme of the week, beating all episodes of EastEnders and Coronation Street, which usually dominate the line-up.

The Husbands of River Song also scored an Appreciation Index of 82. This is a measure, out of a possible 100, used as an indicator of the public’s appreciation for a programme. A general guide for scores is that 60 or less is poor, 85 or over excellent, and over 90 exceptional. It isn’t a conclusive measure of a show’s popularity as audiences vary massively between programmes but this is nonetheless an encouraging figure.

For comparison’s sake, the final episode Downton Abbey amassed a total viewership of 10.92 million to come top of the ratings, followed by Mrs Brown’s Boys with 9.49 million. The Christmas Day edition of EastEnders received a total of 7.67 million viewers, whilst the episode of Coronation Street from the same evening scored 7.28 million.

Whilst it had a smaller audience than previous Christmas specials, The Husbands of River Song still did respectably, particularly so taking the figures achieved by other shows into consideration.

The final figures for Doctor Who Christmas specials are:

  • The Christmas Invasion (2005): 9.84 million
  • The Runaway Bride (2006): 9.30 million
  • Voyage of the Damned (2007): 13.31 million
  • The Next Doctor (2008): 13.10 million
  • The End of Time (2009): 12.04 million
  • A Christmas Carol (2010): 12.11 million
  • The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe (2011): 10.77 million
  • The Snowmen (2012): 9.87 million
  • The Time of the Doctor (2013): 11.14 million
  • Last Christmas (2014): 8.28 million
  • The Husbands of River Song (2015): 7.69 million


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