When Peter Capaldi was announced as the successor to Matt Smith, there was a fair amount of hand-wringing by some in reaction to the decision. Many worried that having an older actor playing the role after a run of fairly young “boyfriend” Doctors would hurt viewership. Boy, were they wrong, friend.
Now that the snow has settled from Last Christmas, the numbers are in and the numbers are good. Really good. Season 8 of Doctor Who is officially the highest rated season of the show for BBC America. So, if anything, an older actor in the role actually helped gain viewership, not lose it.
The only people who “lost it” were the ones who couldn’t accept change from a show whose entire existence revolves around change. Change in time, change in place, change in actors playing the Doctor, change of companion, change in the TARDIS interior, change in opening credits … about the only thing that remains the same is the look of the TARDIS. And even that has gotten a few tweaks here and there over the years.
Age isn’t the only factor, though, as Peter Capaldi is a seriously accomplished actor who was practically born to play the Doctor. A life-long fan of the show, Capaldi has been following Doctor Who, writing fan letters to the BBC, and probably dreaming of playing the part his entire life. Now, he’s living the dream and the enthusiasm shows in his perfect portrayal of everyone’s favorite Time Lord. The chemistry between he and Coleman is fantastic and is another important factor in the show’s growing popularity.
The Christmas Special, Last Christmas, which guest starred the appropriately-named Nick Frost as Santa Claus, garnered over 2.3 million total viewers. That number swells to over 2.6 million when you factor in Live+3 viewership along with the numbers from the repeat broadcasts. Capaldi’s first Christmas special had more than double the viewers of Matt Smith’s first Christmas special, which was A Christmas Carol back in 2010. The numbers for the season overall were also impressive. Season 8 averaged a touch over 2 million viewers in Live+3 ratings.
That’s a whole lotta eyeballs, people.
But, hey, don’t take my word for it. Here’s the official BBC America press release:
BBC AMERICA’S DOCTOR WHO FINISHES 2014 WITH HIGHEST RATED SEASON EVER
Doctor Who: Last Christmas Delivers Over 2.3 Million Viewers on Christmas Day
Peter Capaldi’s first season saw the Doctor coming face-to-face with Missy, AKA The Master, and teaming up with Santa in the scary festive special
New York – January 5, 2015 – BBC AMERICA’s Doctor Who finishes the year with its highest rated season ever on BBC AMERICA, plus the annual Christmas Special delivered over 2.3 million Total Viewers and was the #1 non-sports telecast in all of cable during the time period among Adults 25-54 in Live+3.
Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and guest star Nick Frost (The World’s End, Shaun of the Dead) strapped in for a dangerous sleigh ride through space and time in Doctor Who: Last Christmas, written by Steven Moffat and directed by Paul Wilmshurst.
The Christmas Day special (9:00pm-10:25pm) delivered 2.312 million Total Viewers and 1.304 million A25-54 in Live+3. The special totaled 2.616 million Total Viewers in Live+3 – combining the 9:00pm premiere with the 11:45pm and 2:30am replays. The Twelfth Doctor’s first Christmas special more than doubled the viewership of the Eleventh Doctor’s first Christmas special, A Christmas Carol in 2010. BBC AMERICA was the #1 network on Twitter and Tumblr and Doctor Who: Last Christmas was the #1 show on both platforms in all of television in Primetime (excluding sports) on December 25. Doctor Who is pacing as one of Twitter’s top 10 most-tweeted original dramas in all of cable for 2014.
Peter Capaldi’s first season as the Doctor, with co-star Jenna Coleman as Clara, delivered BBC AMERICA its highest rated season ever with an average of 2.035 million Total Viewers in Live+3. The season featured Samuel Anderson as Danny Pink and Michelle Gomez as Missy. Guest stars included Jemma Redgrave, Frank Skinner, Foxes, Tom Riley, Keeley Hawes and more. Steven Moffat is lead writer and executive producer and Brian Minchin is executive producer.
Doctor Who: Last Christmas arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on February 17, 2015 and Doctor Who: The Complete Eighth Series is available now.
Looking ahead in 2015, Doctor Who returns with a full season starring Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman on BBC AMERICA along with new seasons of Orphan Black, Broadchurch, The Musketeers, Ripper Street and new dramas Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, London Spy and Tatau.
Source: Nielsen Media Company. Nielsen SocialGuide. Union Metrics.
The Doctor and Clara will return next year in The Magician’s Apprentice.