The overnight viewing figures for Resolution give us our first hint as to whether the move to New Year’s Day has paid off

Series 11 was marked by a number of bold scheduling and promotional decisions that largely paid off. It seems strange to remember now, but the move to Sunday was actually a calculated risk that saw some argued was a demotion to a less prestigious, lower rated slot. In the final event, the move to Sunday saw Doctor Who winning a bigger share of a bigger audience. It was a frankly huge increase on the viewing figures of previous seasons. Other decisions, such as more standalone stories to avoid discouraging casual viewers, at least didn’t do any harm, even if they perhaps didn’t cause the increase in viewer retention that might have been hoped.

We now have another such calculated risk. The move of Doctor Who’s annual special, a national institution since 2005, from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day. However, it appears to not have been met with the same success. Resolution was watched by 5.15m overnight. This is down 170,000 (3%) on series finale The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos. More importantly it’s down 501,000 (9%) on last year’s Christmas Special, Twice Upon a Time. It’s the first time the new era has dropped below 2017’s comparable overnights and makes the New Year’s Day special lower rater than any of the Christmas specials.

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

New Year’s Day 2019 saw lower audience numbers across all channels and time slots

It’s also noteworthy that New Year’s Day’s viewing figures were lower across the board than Christmas Day’s. This suggests that Resolution would likely have achieved higher numbers in Doctor Who’s traditional slot. When even the return of popular detective drama Luther, starring now bone fide awards laden movie star Idris Elba, mustered just a slightly higher 5.63m, it seems clear that New Year’s Day was not the prime piece of ratings real estate that had been hoped.

Off course, it remains to be seen how much time-shifting programs aired on New Year’s Day will ultimately receive. After all, final figures for Series 11 itself are, even now, still coming in.

Doctor Who Series 11 - Episode 8 - The Witchfinders - : King James (ALAN CUMMING)
Doctor Who Series 11 – Episode 8 – The Witchfinders – : King James (ALAN CUMMING)

Since Blogtor Who’s last update, final +28 day ratings have been issued for The Witchfinders and It Takes You Away

360,000 viewers have been added to The Witchfinders’ total since the +7 day number. This gives us a final figure for The Witchfinders of 7.65m. This is a drop of 401,000 (5%) on the previous episode. Though it’s an increase of 2.36m (38%) on the corresponding 2017 episode The Lie of the Land.

Meanwhile, penultimate episode It Takes You Away has a final ratings achievement of 6.78m.  Although, this is the same increase (360,000) on the +7 number as The Witchfinders’, weaker original overnights mean this is a decline of 900,000 (11%). It’s 1.66m up on Series 10’s Empress of Mars, however, giving a year on year increase of 32%.



  1. The show was 4th most watched on the day, so that’s good enough for me! And it’s been enjoyed, except maybe by the folks who were sensitive about the “Brexit killed UNIT” joke or the gay character being instantly exterminated by the clearly-homophobic Dalek …

  2. Marketing people hold a lot of sway at the BBC these days, so another set of data that the BBC marketing team will be looking at is the relative number of people searching on Google, on a given day, for the term “Doctor Who”. This is often critical information for deciding on marketing spend, particularly online, and can be as, or more, important than viewing figures.

    Although absolute figures are not published, you can access searching relative to the highest in the time period. The URL below shows the daily searches from 30 Sept 2018 to 1 Jan 2019.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, “Woman” was the highest and scored 100%, but the following week “Ghost” had dropped to 60% and searches continued to fall before plateauing from Kerblam onwards at an average of 34%. The exception was “Punjab” with only 30%.

    “Resolution” rose, but only to 49%: half that of the first episode.

  3. The show has become a victim of its own success.
    It’s very easy for detractors and those news outlets who live on bad news to compare any series to the highest points in the shows now lengthy return.
    To say that any series or special wasn’t watched by as many as watched the show in its Davies/Tennant heyday, and is therefore doing badly is disingenuous. and has been going on for years.
    The fact is that despite it not having the same ratings as it did in 2009/10 or 2013 the show continues to have GOOD ratings.
    Any drama series that has changed lead 4 times in 14 years and doesn’t have a single remaining original cast member, that still pulls in figures like Who does is doing something right.
    I never managed to get on board with the Moffat era, and was often vocal in my opinions on what I didn’t like, but even in the last year, when the ratings were at their lowest did I think the show was not getting a decent number of viewers who clearly enjoyed it.

    It does get on my nerves when people twist the data to make it appear that their unfounded (and often bigoted) reservations over the new series have been justified because series 11 shipped so many viewers after the initial high of the premiere. It’s nonsense.

    The BBC understand modern viewing habits in a way the commercial “terrestrial” networks have yet to catch on to. Netflix et al have changed the rules, and nowadays the streaming numbers on catch up are more important than the overnights. Because that’s how people watch TV now.
    I think that New Years Day was probably a misjudgement and, with hindsight, the Beeb will want it back in prime position on Christmas Day 2019. and I imagine Chris will agree with that assessment.


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