Russell T. Davies Isn’t Worried About Doctor Who’s Low Ratings

Russell T. Davies Isn’t Worried About Doctor Who’s Low Ratings

Despite lofty expectations, the all-new, budget-enhanced Doctor Who has been—to be kind—a bit of a ratings bust. Speaking at a recent BAFTA Q&A, showrunner Russell T. Davies admitted as much, with the caveat the Fifteenth Doctor era has proven to be enormously successful with younger audiences.

“In coming back, I wanted to make it simpler and I wanted to make it younger,” he said, as reported by the Radio Times. “Those two things are often not discussed—you read reactions to it and people are missing that. It’s simpler and younger—and it is working. The under-16s and the 16-34 audience as well is massive. It’s not doing that well in the ratings, but it is doing phenomenally well with the younger audience that we wanted.”

The series’ ratings may also, at least in part, be explained by its inconsistent and convoluted release schedule in recent years. In the U.S., new Doctor Who episodes stream starting at 7 p.m. ET on the increasingly expensive Disney+; in the UK, it gets a simultaneous midnight release on iPlayer, followed by seemingly random airings early Saturday evenings on BBC One. So for some, it might simply be a difficult show to get ahold of.

In a separate interview with the Radio Times (via Screen Rant), Davies was even more optimistic. “They might not be the ratings we’d love. We always want higher. But they are building over the 28-day period. Episode one, ‘Space Babies,’ is already up to 5.6 million and counting. So it is getting there. And actually, I was brought back to bring in a younger audience. That’s been massively successful,” he said.

Again, he brought up specifics about just who’s tuning in to the show. “The audience no one ever gets are the under-30s. They just don’t watch television anymore. But those figures are astronomic for Doctor Who, it’s their top program in that bracket. I never thought it was possible, to be honest. But according to the people who juggle the numbers, all targets have been reached and exceeded. The BBC are running around like mad things.”

As previously reported, Davies is already writing scripts for a yet-to-be-ordered third season, as is his wont. How do you feel about Disney’s Doctor Who? Are you enjoying the adventures of Ruby and Fifteen, or do you also feel you’ve barely become acquainted with Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor as his first season begins to wind down?

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