Doctor Who 50th anniversary storms to victory in Twitter mention wars

The tweeting masses ensure The Day of the Doctor gets whopping amount of 140-character air time, beating Broadchurch's previous record and keeping X Factor off the top spot on Saturday night

It’s extremely rare to see a drama receive a substantially large amount of tweets. We generally expect to see them average around the 20k-30k mark with the occasional 40k plus during a series finale. To make it into the Drama Top Ten here at social media analysts SecondSync, a show has to generate over 68,000 tweets, something that is extremely uncommon.


The series finale of ITV’s Broadchurch took Twitter by storm and has held our top spot since it’s airing. In total, 260,709 tweets were generated in a single episode, which is phenomenal for a drama lasting just sixty-five minutes. In second place was E4’s Skins Fire with an impressive 187,959 tweets while third place saw the series four premiere of E4’s Misfits generating 106,068 tweets.

And then The Day of The Doctor happened.

Opening to a peak of 12,939 tweets per minute, the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special generated a staggering 442,692 tweets, jumping straight to the very top of our Drama leaderboard. Averaging 2,745 tweets per minute, The Day of The Doctor managed to break every drama record there is, all of which were previously held by Broadchurch. Not only did it break SecondSync records, it even broke a Guinness World Record for the largest ever simulcast of a TV drama, having aired in 94 countries, and it easily managed to place top of our daily leaderboard. It ranked higher than The X Factor, something that has never happened before during Saturday night broadcasts and it’s only the second time that The X Factor hasn’t grabbed the top spot.

Although not making it into SecondSync’s overall top ten (currently held by six episodes of The X Factor, I’m A Celebrity, Britain’s Got Talent, The Brit Awards, and at the very top Comic Relief), The Day of The Doctor has had an incredible impact on our statistics. Future dramas have a lot to contend with if they wish to compete with Doctor Who. There are many lessons that can be learnt, the most important of which is the power of hashtags.

The official hashtag #SaveTheDay had generated almost 275,000 tweets by 18 November and it was rare to see a day go by without the hashtag trending on Twitter. During the airing of The Day of The Doctor, #SaveTheDay was tweeted a substantial 61,319 times. It seems that this strategy was so successful the BBC have decided to use it again. Straight after The Day of The Doctor a teaser trailer for the new series of Sherlock aired, this time with the hashtag #SherlockLives. 2,530 tweets responded immediately with the hashtag, so only time will tell if it will make a similar buzz as #SaveTheDay. It wasn’t only #SaveTheDay that was used and tweeted during The Day of The Doctor. #DoctorWho, #DoctorWho50th and #DavidTennant were among the most used hashtags of the night and in total, 227,147 tweets contained either #SaveTheDay, #DoctorWho or #TheDayofTheDoctor. As The Doctor quite rightly said in a certain viral video, “It’s 2013. Hashtags are a big deal!”

The most retweeted tweet of the night came from the official Doctor Who account, @bbcdoctorwho. Merely nine characters long, it was retweeted 4,712 times and was rather fittingly first tweeted in the minutes before the beginning of the episode. It mirrored the emotions of millions of Whovians worldwide, symbolising the fanbase’s collective feelings before they jumped into the episode they felt they’d been waiting for their whole lives. The tweet? One word. All together now: “Geronimo!”

The Day of The Doctor certainly made an impact on social media. Although perhaps not doing as well as expected during it’s official airing, the buzz and chatter around the episode is still ongoing which is something that’s quite rare for any television show of any genre. With the Christmas Special now only a few weeks away, who knows what impact Peter Capaldi’s entrance will make on our statistics. With his mere second or so cameo in The Day of the Doctor generating 5,020 tweets mentioning his name, we’re expecting big things. Perhaps we should once again #SaveTheDay.

Kay Dekker is a social media TV analyst