Steven Moffat has described Doctor Who’s late air time as, “not the smartest move we’ve ever made,” and cited it as a possible reason for the current run’s dip in overnight ratings.
Beginning on 19th September, series nine kicked off at 7:40pm with The Magician’s Apprentice, but has since been airing episodes in varying slots ranging from 8pm to 8:25pm – very late, say critics, for what has traditionally been a teatime show aimed at children.
But while he says the scheduling decisions were not made by him, Moffat admits “conversations” have been had about it and that it may return to an earlier slot next year.
“I am not a man of influence. [Doctor Who] gives me no power. [Scheduling] is entirely in Charlotte Moore’s control, a very fine controller of BBC1,” he told RadioTimes.com. “We have conversations about it. I’ve expressed my views. We’re all pretty much agreed that the bold experiment of being on too late isn’t a great idea. There’s not a big controversy. I am not exercising my non-existent muscle at the BBC. I have literally none. But I think we’re agreed that we’re not going to do that again.”
As widely reported, the series has also seen a fall in overnight ratings, which Moffat believes do not reflect the way modern audiences watch television, given that they often rise considerably when seven days of catch-up viewing is taken into account to create the consolidated figures.
“Unless [journalists] are gonna start reporting football matches in the middle, why are you reporting overnights?” he said. “If you look at consolidated [ratings], we’re fine. We’re slightly down because we’re on a later slot, which I don’t think is the smartest move we’ve ever made. No one’s to blame for it but I don’t think 8:25pm is right for Doctor Who.
“But the consolidated [ratings] are absolutely fine. It’s still a hit show… That’s the truth. But I say this every year. I’m the only man who goes around apologising for a hit show. ‘Loads and loads of people really love this well-reviewed show – how are you going to fix it?’”
The next episode of Doctor Who, The Zygon Inversion, will air on BBC1 tomorrow at 8pm