Doctor Who 50th anniversary special scoops Guinness World Record for biggest ever TV drama simulcast

In countries where there was no broadcaster to pick up the episode, fans stepped in, helping to ensure the sci-fi show made even more history in its half-centenary

After all the rave reviews that followed last night’s screening of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, the BBC has one more not insignificant plaudit to add to its collection – a Guinness World Record.


The Day of the Doctor has been named the largest ever simulcast of a TV drama after being successfully broadcast in 94 countries across six continents simultaneously at 7:50pm GMT last night.

“For years the Doctor has been stopping everyone else from conquering the world. Now, just to show off, he’s gone and done it himself!” said head writer Steven Moffat as he accepted the award at the official Doctor Who Celebration in London, alongside the show’s stars Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman.

“Who else but the time-twisting Doctor could appear in 94 countries at once?!” added Craig Glenday, Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief. “This outstanding achievement is testament to the fact that the longest running sci-fi TV show in history is not just a well-loved UK institution but a truly global success adored by millions of people.”

He has a point. While numerous national channels were keen to buy in the biggest episode in Doctor Who history, in countries where there was no broadcaster to pick up the episode, fans stepped in. 

In Sweden and Norway, they successfully petitioned local movie theatres to screen the episode, while in Argentina a major cinema chain was persuaded into showing the special. In the US, an initial 10,000 cinema tickets sold out in 28 minutes without any marketing or advertising.

The episode was screened in 3D in over 1500 cinemas worldwide, including in the UK, US, Canada, Latin America, Germany, Russia and Scandinavia, with over half a million tickets sold in total.

Tim Davie, CEO of BBC Worldwide, who co-ordinated the simulcast, said: “We knew we were attempting something unprecedented in broadcast history, not only because Doctor Who is a drama – unlike a live feed event such as a World Cup football match or a Royal Wedding – but because we had to deliver the episode in advance to the four corners of the world so that it could be dubbed and subtitled into 15 different languages.

“If there was any doubt that Doctor Who is one of the world’s biggest TV shows, this award should put that argument to rest – and how fitting for it to receive such an accolade in its 50th year.”