Peter Capaldi’s Doctor Who is officially the darkest of the modern era

The adventures of the Twelfth Time Lord have been given higher ratings by the BBFC than any of his predecessors in the revived series

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If you’ve ever thought that Doctor Who seemed like it was getting darker or more grown-up in recent years, then you may have a point – because according to official data researched by RadioTimes.com, more episodes during Peter Capaldi’s run as the Doctor have been rated unsuitable for very young viewers than any of his recent predecessors.

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The majority of Doctor Who episodes in the modern series have been rated PG (Parental Guidance) by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), meaning that they should be fine for most kids but parents should consider whether it’s suitable if the child is under 8 or more sensitive. 

However, a few Doctor Who episodes have been rated 12, meaning that children below that age are not always recommended to view them – and are banned from seeing them in cinemas or from buying or renting them. And Peter Capaldi’s time on the series has featured more episodes with that rating than any other Doctor Who since the show returned in 2005. Such episodes may have included mild threat or horror, violence or imitable behaviour (i.e. a character doing something dangerous that kids might copy), and you can find out more about what constitutes a 12 rating here.

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Christopher Eccleston’s year as the Doctor included two 12-rated episodes (The Unquiet Dead and Dalek) while David Tennant’s longer stint in the Tardis saw four (Tooth and Claw, Planet of the Ood, The Doctor’s Daughter and The Waters of Mars) and Matt Smith’s Doctor only racked up two (The God Complex and The Angels Take Manhattan). 

By contrast, Peter Capaldi’s tenure as the Doctor has seen, er, 12 12-rated episodes, a third more than the total that the series had been given in the nine years before that, with 2015’s series nine alone given seven 12 ratings, nearly doubling the number of higher-rated episodes that the series had received in the 10 years before. Now THAT’S a darker series. 

In case you’re wondering, Peter Capaldi’s 12-rated episodes are as follows: Dark Water, Last Christmas, The Magician’s Apprentice, The Witch’s Familiar, Under the Lake, Before the Flood, The Zygon Inversion, Heaven Sent, The Return of Doctor Mysterio, Knock Knock, Oxygen, Extremis.

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Extremis (pictured) will be the last 12-rated Doctor Who episode starring Peter Capaldi

Now, none of this is to say that Doctor Who is intentionally now aimed at older viewers or to make some sort of disparaging comment about Peter Capaldi’s time in Doctor Who. All the rating is done externally by the BBFC for DVD and other releases and not the BBC themselves, and the BBFC’s reasoning for giving out higher ratings can sometimes seem a little opaque (after all, who’s to say that The Return of Doctor Mysterio is worse for kids than a scary story like Blink?). Plus, all upcoming episodes in the current series are rated PG again, as was the vast majority of Capaldi’s first series, so it’s not exactly an upward trend in age ratings.

But still, if you were curious about which episode of Doctor Who would be best to show your children, the BBFC have answered that too by rating just one instalment of the revived series a U (meaning it’s suitable for pre-school children) – 2006 episode Rise of The Cybermen.

Yep, the one where a parallel Earth sees homeless people abducted from the streets and painfully transformed into cyborgs, before an army of marching metal troops murder their way through a fancy black-tie party.

You know, for kids.

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You can read the full list of modern Doctor Who age ratings below.

Season 1

Episode 1 – Rose – PG

Episode 2 – The End of the World – PG

Episode 3 – The Unquiet Dead – 12

Episode 4 – Aliens of London – PG

Episode 5 – World War Three – PG

Episode 6 – Dalek –12

Episode 7 – The Long Game – PG

Episode 8 – Father’s Day – PG

Episode 9 – The Empty Child – PG

Episode 10 – The Doctor Dances – PG

Episode 11 – Boom Town – PG

Episode 12 – Bad Wolf – PG

Episode 13 – The Parting of the Ways – PG

Season 2

Episode 0 – The Christmas Invasion – PG 

Episode 1 – New Earth – PG

Episode 2 – Tooth and Claw – 12

Episode 3 – School Reunion – PG

Episode 4 – The Girl in the Fireplace – PG

Episode 5 – Rise of the Cybermen – U

Episode 6 – The Age of Steel – PG

Episode 7 – The Idiot’s Lantern – PG

Episode 8 – The Impossible Planet – PG

Episode 9 – The Satan Pit – PG

Episode 10 – Love & Monsters – PG

Episode 11 – Fear Her – PG

Episode 12 – Army of Ghosts – PG

Episode 13 – Doomsday – PG

Season 3 

Episode 0 – The Runaway Bride – PG

Episode 1 – Smith and Jones – PG

Episode 2 – The Shakespeare Code – PG

Episode 3 – Gridlock – PG

Episode 4 – Daleks in Manhattan – PG

Episode 5 – Evolution of the Daleks – PG

Episode 6 – The Lazarus Experiment – PG

Episode 7 – 42 – PG

Episode 8 – Human Nature – PG

Episode 9 – The Family of Blood – PG

Episode 10 – Blink – PG

Episode 11 – Utopia – PG

Episode 12 – The Sound of Drums – PG

Episode 13 – Last of the Time Lords – PG 

Season 4  

Episode 0 – Voyage of the Damned – PG

Episode 1 – Partners in Crime – PG

Episode 2 – The Fires of Pompeii – PG

Episode 3 – Planet of the Ood – 12

Episode 4 – The Sontaran Stratagem – PG

Episode 5 – The Poison Sky – PG

Episode 6 – The Doctor’s Daughter – 12

Episode 7 – The Unicorn and the Wasp – PG

Episode 8 – Silence in the Library – 12

Episode 9 – Forest of the Dead – PG

Episode 10 – Midnight – PG

Episode 11 – Turn Left – PG

Episode 12 – The Stolen Earth – PG

Episode 13 – Journey’s End – PG 

2008-2010 specials

Episode 14 – The Next Doctor – PG

Episode 15 – Planet of the Dead – PG

Episode 16 – The Waters of Mars – 12

Episode 17 – The End of Time Part 1 – PG

Episode 18 – The End of Time Part 2 – PG

Season 5 

Episode 1 – The Eleventh Hour – PG

Episode 2 – The Beast Below – PG

Episode 3 – Victory of the Daleks – PG

Episode 4 – The Time of Angels – PG

Episode 5 – Flesh and Stone – PG

Episode 6 – The Vampires of Venice – PG

Episode 7 – Amy’s Choice – PG

Episode 8 – The Hungry Earth – PG 

Episode 9 – Cold Blood – PG

Episode 10 – Vincent and the Doctor – PG

Episode 11 – The Lodger – PG

Episode 12 – The Pandorica Opens – PG

Episode 13 – The Big Bang – PG

Season 6 

Episode 0 – A Christmas Carol – PG

Episode 1 – The Impossible Astronaut – PG

Episode 2 – Day of the Moon – PG

Episode 3 – The Curse of the Black Spot – PG

Episode 4 – The Doctor’s Wife – PG

Episode 5 – The Rebel Flesh – PG

Episode 6 – The Almost People – PG

Episode 7 – A Good Man Goes to War – PG

Episode 8 – Let’s Kill Hitler – PG

Episode 9 – Night Terrors – PG

Episode 10 – The Girl Who Waited – PG

Episode 11 – The God Complex – 12

Episode 12 – Closing Time – PG

Episode 13 – The Wedding of River Song – PG

Season 7 

Episode 0 – The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe – PG

Episode 1 – Asylum of the Daleks – PG

Episode 2 – Dinosaurs on a Spaceship – PG

Episode 3 – A Town Called Mercy – PG

Episode 4 – The Power of Three – PG

Episode 5 – The Angels Take Manhattan – 12

Episode 6 – The Snowmen – PG

Episode 7 – The Bells of Saint John – PG

Episode 8 – The Rings of Akhaten – PG

Episode 9 – Cold War – PG

Episode 10 – Hide – PG

Episode 11 – Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS – PG

Episode 12 – The Crimson Horror – PG

Episode 13 – Nightmare in Silver – PG

Episode 14 – The Name of the Doctor – PG

2013 Specials

The Day of the Doctor – PG

The Time of the Doctor – PG 

Season 8 

Episode 1 – Deep Breath – PG

Episode 2 – Into the Dalek – PG

Episode 3 – Robot of Sherwood – PG

Episode 4 – Listen – PG

Episode 5 – Time Heist – PG

Episode 6 – The Caretaker – PG

Episode 7 – Kill the Moon – PG

Episode 8 – Mummy on the Orient Express – PG

Episode 9 – Flatline – PG

Episode 10 – In the Forest of the Night – PG

Episode 11 – Dark Water – 12

Episode 12 – Death in Heaven – PG

Season 9 

Episode 0 – Last Christmas – 12

Episode 1 – The Magician’s Apprentice – 12

Episode 2 – The Witch’s Familiar – 12

Episode 3 – Under the Lake – 12

Episode 4 – Before the Flood – 12

Episode 5 – The Girl Who Died – PG

Episode 6 – The Women Who Lived – PG

Episode 7 – The Zygon Invasion – PG

Episode 8 – The Zygon Inversion – 12

Episode 9 – Sleep No More – PG

Episode 10 – Face the Raven – PG

Episode 11 – Heaven Sent – 12

Episode 12 – Hell Bent – PG 

Episode 13 – The Husbands of River Song – PG

Season 10 

Episode 0 – The Return of Doctor Mysterio – 12

Episode 1 – The Pilot – PG

Episode 2 – Smile – PG

Episode 3 – Thin Ice – PG

Episode 4 – Knock Knock – 12

Episode 5 – Oxygen – 12

Episode 6 – Extremis – 12

Episode 7 – The Pyramid at the End of the World – PG

Episode 8 – The Lie of the Land – PG

Episode 9 – Empress of Mars – PG

Episode 10 – The Eaters of Light – PG

Episode 11 – World Enough and Time – PG

Episode 12 – The Doctor Falls – PG 

2017 Christmas Special – PG

Additional reporting by Penelope Coumau

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Doctor Who continues on BBC1 this Saturday 10th June at 7:15pm