After months of excitement and anticipation, a new Doctor Who era began last night on BBC1 as Peter Capaldi was finally unveiled in his first full episode as the iconic Time Lord we know simply as the Doctor.
And the ratings matched the hype as the show attracted a very health average audience of 6.8 million viewers on BBC1, a 32.5 per cent share of everyone watching TV in Britain between 7.50pm and 9.10pm on Saturday night. The show peaked with 7.3 million viewers, according to overnight ratings figures that do not include time shifted viewing or numbers from BBC iPlayer.
The numbers make Peter Capaldi’s debut alongside Jenna Coleman the biggest viewed Doctor Who series opener in four years. However, Deep Breath’s impressive figures could not beat the 8 million who tuned in to see 2010’s The Eleventh Hour, Matt Smith’s first full episode as the Doctor after regenerating from David Tennant.
In 2012, Matt Smith’s final series kicked off with 6.4 million watching according to overnight figures, and in 2011, 6.5 million tuned in to see the series six opening episode, The Impossible Astronaut.
The highest ever debut overnight ratings for Doctor Who in the modern era was for March 2005’s Rose – the first episode of the show since the 1996 Paul McGann TV movie. 9.9 million tuned in to see Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper bring the famous BBC sci-fi franchise back to life under the watchful eye of then showrunner Russell T Davies.
But with last night’s Deep Breath having been simulcast across the world on television and available in cinemas, plus huge amounts of people now choosing to watch the show time shifted and on BBC iPlayer – it will be at least a week before we get an idea of the true number of people around the globe who watched Peter Capaldi break his Tardis duck.