Doctor Who Reaches A New Low, Series In Freefall

Doctor Who's ratings are taking a crushing blow.

By Erika Hanson | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

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Doctor Who was back in action Sunday night with the second episode in the 13th season of the hit sci-fi series on BBC. Chapter Two: War of The Sontarans brought the return of a fan-favorite alien race of villains. And just as with the first episode in this six-part season, the overall fan reactions have been positive. But even though the first two episodes of the show have been well received, Doctor Who’s viewership continues to decline as the series reaches a new low.

The 13th season of Doctor Who was already breaking new lows for the series, as it premiered on the BBC network with viewership at 5.79 million, making this season premier not only the lowest viewed season opener, but also the lowest viewed episode for both current Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, and current showrunner, Chris Chibnall. With the second episode airing this past Sunday, the show’s viewership continued its downward spiral, having dropped nearly 11% in viewership from the season opener, with a total of 3.96 million views. 

Although this season’s viewership looks daunting, the drop in ratings isn’t new to the series. Doctor Who has seen a general decline in viewership over the past five years, and there are many theories pointing to reasons why the show has been losing momentum. Many look to actor David Tennant, or the tenth doctor, as a reason for the show’s steady decline. Undoubtedly one of the most iconic doctors to grace the show, the season’s actor was able to produce the show’s greatest ratings, and his tenure on the show kept viewership close to, if not over 10 million an episode. Those numbers were difficult to maintain for the series. Others point to the departure of Russell T. Davies, the showrunner responsible for the show’s epic revival in 2005. And yet some also believe the selection of Jodie Whitaker, the first female Doctor, might indicate the reason for viewership decline. 

doctor who

Since 1963, Doctor Who has been following the adventures of the Time Lord, known best as “The Doctor”, an extraterrestrial being who explores the universe in a time-traveling space ship called the TARDIS. The 13th season of Doctor Who is being presented as a special six-part story as the Doctor explores the Crimean War, her own history, and a new antagonist known as the Flux. The newest episode debuted the return of a classic villain in the “Whoniverse”, the Sontarans, as they take advantage of the Flux to launch an attack on Earth. 

No matter what the issue behind the low ratings may be, it is inevitable that Doctor Who is undergoing an abysmal rating freefall, and something needs to change in order for the show to recover. With this season being the last for both Jodie Whitaker and Chris Chibnall, the show will certainly go through drastic changes before the release of season 14. As we previously reported, not only will the next season see the return of the beloved showrunner Russel T. Davies, the show will also undergo a change in production companies, and possibly a buyout from Sony.