With Doctor Who again poised for a Top Five Chart placement, updated viewing figures for The Woman Who Fell to Earth and Arachnids in the UK confirm the series’ astonishing success

It’s now exactly four weeks and one day since Doctor Who returned to our screens. This means that the final viewing figures for the early episodes are now starting to finally settle into place. Today BARB, the official British viewing figures body, have revealed not only the overnights for The Tsuranga Conundrum but the consolidated seven day figures for Arachnids in the UK and the final 28 day rating for series premiere The Woman Who Fell to Earth. Blogtor Who is taking the opportunity this week to indicate what these different numbers mean and how important they are.

We’ll start with last night’s episode, The Tsuranga Conundrum. 6.12 million viewers watched the Doctor and her friends attempt to stop a giant space-ambulance being eaten by a the cutest whirlwind of destruction this side of Taz the Tasmanian Devil. While this is down 310,000 viewers from last week’s overnights, that’s consistent with years gone by. We’re now down approximately 25% from the series premiere, as happens almost every year. But started so strongly that Tsuranga Condundrum’s 6.12 is still substantially higher than any episode in Series 10. This even includes premiere The Pilot (5.68m) and Christmas Special Twice Upon a Time (5.66m). It’s also higher than any season average since David Tennant was in the TARDIS.

Doctor Who - Series 11 - Ep 4 - Arachnids in the UK - Picture shows: Jade (TANYA FEAR) (c) BBC Studios Copyright © Simon Ridgway, 2018Jade (TANYA FEAR) in Arachnids in the UK (c) BBC Studios Copyright © Simon Ridgway, 2018


Arachnids in the UK has climbed to 8.2m viewers at the end of its first week

Travelling back in time a week, Arachinds in the UK’s consolidated seven day rating has been revealed. While the overnights include all people who watched the show live, or before 2am, the seven day consolidated number reflects all people who caught up on the show in the following week. With the new ‘four screens’ measure it also includes those who watched on laptops, tablets and smartphones. Arachnids in the UK was originally watched by almost 6.5m on the night. But a further 1.5m have joined them in the week since. Add to that the 244,000 who watched on other devices and the spider-centric episode has been seen by 8.2m in the first week.

Doctor Who - Series 11 - Episode 1 - The Woman Who Fell To Earth - The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) - (C) BBC/BBC Studios - Photographer: Sophie MutevilianThe Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) in The Woman Who Fell to Earth – (C) BBC/BBC Studios – Photographer: Sophie Mutevilian

The Woman Who Fell to Earth’s final ratings has been revealed as 11.5m after 28 days

Moving even further down the vortex, The Woman Who Fell to Earth was watched by 8.2m live. Then another 2.3m used catch up services and recordings to see it within the first week. 526,000 people used devices to watch it online and 395,000 watched via their televisions in the following three weeks. Giving Jodie Whittaker’s debut a frankly astonishing 28 Day number of 11.5m viewers.


But what do all these different measures mean? And how big a part does each one play in determining the final rating? Here’s a quick guide.


BARB measures how many people are watching any given channel in five minutes chunks. This means, that if you dive deeply enough into the data, you can actually see whether people turned off or tuned in as the episode progressed. The ‘Live’ number actually quoted for an episode is actually the average of all the five minute sections within it. Approximately half of Doctor Who’s viewers this season have watched live.


Video on Same Day as Live. This includes everyone who used a recording, live pause, iPlayer etc to watch the episode after it ended but before 2am the next morning. Together Live and VOSDAL make up the number commonly referred to as ‘the Overnights’. About a quarter of the total audience watch Doctor Who this way. Together this means the Overnights typically represent about 75% of the ultimate total.

7+ Consolidated

Everyone who watches in the following six days are then added to the Overnights to get this consolidated viewing figure. On average, one in five of us don’t get a chance to check in on the good Doctor until later in the week, so presumably spend the time in between desperately dodging spoilers. By the time the consolidated rating is out, Doctor Who is generally 90% of the way towards its final result.

Four Screens

This measure, only introduced this year, has proven small but mighty for Doctor Who. Slightly surprisingly given modern stereotypes of everyone under twenty-five being glued to their phones, 96% of the British public choose to consume the Doctor’s adventures in the traditional way – gathered around the telly. But that 4% watching on smartphones, tablets and computers still represent an average of 345,000 per week. These members of the audience previously went unmeasured. This year they’ve frequently been enough to see Doctor Who leap frog over other shows to a higher chart placing.

28 Days

The final meaningful measure produce by BARB gives a show its ultimate viewing figures. By the time the 28 Days metric is published, the gains can be relatively modest. For instance, only 3% of the audience for the premiere waited longer than a week to watch it on television.


While Doctor Who’s overnights are some of its strongest in years, time shifting remains a vital component of the full picture

To give a sense of their relative importance, Blogtor Who has created a chart showing the scale of their contribution to each episode so far this series. (Note that the Live/VOSDAL split for last night is not yet available, so the Overnights split for The Tsuranga Conundrum is an estimate based of historical information)

As this breakdown shows, Overnights are the lion’s share of the ratings, but far from the whole story.


We can also show this as a percentage of the total to isolate it from fluctuations in the viewing figures themselves. This can give some interesting insights. Such as the unusually strong time shifting for Rosa. This was potentially a result of the very strong word of mouth for the episode. Many people also time shifted The Woman Who Fell to Earth in the first week. Perhaps because they initially forgot Doctor Who was coming back, or because they were won over by the positive reaction to Whittaker’s debut and decided to check out what all the fuss was about. But the next week, a somewhat larger proportion of the audience saw The Ghost Monument as ‘appointment television’ as made such to be on their couches ready for it to begin.

This chart helps so which % of the audience time shifts and when
This chart helps so which % of the audience time shifts and when

Looking into the Time Scanner

All this data allows us to move into the realm of speculation and educated guesswork. If we take the Overnights, Four Screens, and 7 Day numbers for episodes two to four, and the Overnights for the fifth, and assume the historical percentage of time shifting will hold true, then we get a final 28 day figure for each episode that looks like this…

Historical data allows us to make some education guesses about the possible final figures for the series so far.
Historical data allows us to make some education guesses about the possible final figures for the series so far.

This scenario would see The Ghost Monument land on 9.3m, Rosa on 8.7m, Arachnids in the UK on 8.6m, and The Tsuranga Conundrum on 8.4m. If – and this is a big if – figures continue in this way, then Series 11 is shaping up to be one of the most consistent and highly rated Doctor Who series ever.


Doctor Who Series 11 - Ep 6 - Demons in the Punjab - Graham (BRADLEY WALSH), Yaz (MANDIP GILL) - (c) BBC StudiosGraham (BRADLEY WALSH), Yaz (MANDIP GILL) in Demons of the Punjab – (c) BBC Studios

The Doctor Who adventure continues…

Doctor Who continues this Sunday at 7pm GMT on BBC One and at 8pm EST on BBC America with Demons of the Punjab by Vinay Patel. Series 11 stars Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), Mandip Gill (Yasmin Khan), Bradley Walsh (Graham O’Brien), and Tosin Cole (Ryan Sinclair).

Demons of the Punjab guest stars Shane Zaza (Prem), Amita Suman and Hamza Jeetooa (Manesh). It’s written by Vinay Patel and directed by Jamie Childs.

“What’s the point of having a mate with a time machine, if you can’t nip back and see your gran when she was younger?”

India, 1947. The Doctor and her friends arrive in the Punjab as the country is being torn apart. While Yaz attempts to discover her grandmother’s hidden history, the Doctor discovers demons haunting the land. Who are they and what do they want?


  1. Thanks for this, Peter, it’s very interesting. One thing I don’t understand, though, is how BARB actually knows how many people are watching? Does it just take a sample of people who fill in a form who say what they actually watched for the week, and extrapolate from it, in the same way as opinion polls work? (I think this is how they used to do it back in the days of the classic show.) Or does BARB actually know what we are watching, with SMART TVs and i-player and so on sending as well as receiving information? (Very ‘1984’…) So – how accurate can the viewing figures be?


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