Jodie Whittaker's first appearance as Doctor Who's titular time lord is officially the most-watched debut episode of any modern Doctor in the UK. Every time a new actor steps into the TARDIS, there's a certain amount of buzz and anticipation, but after it was announced that the Thirteenth Doctor would be played by a woman for the first time ever, even more attention was heaped onto Whittaker's debut outing as the iconic science fiction character.
'The Woman Who Fell To Earth' received a largely positive reaction from critics and Jodie's performance in particular was almost unanimously praised, with many reviews claiming that the entire gender debate quickly became irrelevant. The season premiere also introduced the Doctor's new trio of companions, Graham, Ryan and Yaz, as well as brand new alien baddies, the Stenza. Fans were treated to a traditional 'new outfit' scene and an emotional speech from the Doctor about evolving and moving forward, but the new TARDIS reveal was saved for episode 2.
According to British TV ratings organization, Barb (via Variety), 'The Woman Who Fell To Earth' drew in 10.9 million views across all devices. This is the biggest audience for a debut episode of any modern Doctor since Christopher Eccleston appeared in 2005's 'Rose' and kicked off the entire Who revival with 10.8 million viewers. Doctor Who's season 11 opener also proved to be the BBC's biggest drama premiere in over a decade, boasting a massive 45.1% audience share.
Some may claim that the impressive figures for Jodie Whittaker's first episode can be attributed to sheer curiosity regarding the first female Doctor from non-Doctor Who fans. While there was likely an element of this at play, it's worth noting that Jodie's second episode, 'The Ghost Monument,' scored overnight viewing figures of 7.1 million. Considering the overnights for the season premiere peaked at 9 million, the drop-off between episodes isn't actually as big as might be expected, and still represents a significant boost from last season.
Whittaker's Doctor still has a way to go to bag the title of most-watched modern episode, since Christmas specials and regeneration adventures tend to attract the biggest numbers. The Kylie Minogue-starring 'Voyage of the Damned' during Tennant's stint in the TARDIS currently holds the record with a whopping 13.3 million viewers, according to Barb.
As the era of Doctor Who with Steven Moffat at the helm drew to a close, many fans perhaps felt that the series was in need of a regeneration and the new season has certainly been noticeably different so far. As well as a new Doctor, recently-appointed boss Chris Chibnall has introduced a fresh approach to cinematography, filming and music and the results have been evident on screen. Clearly, if the strong viewing figures are anything to go by, these changes have come not a moment too soon.
Doctor Who continues with 'Rosa' October 21st on BBC.
Source: Barb (via Variety)