The Doctor Who 2019 holiday episode “Resolution” reportedly took a tumble in the rating samong BBC America viewers, compared to the previous special. Season 11, starring Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor, has achieved significant ratings success since it premiered last September. Whittaker’s debut even scored the highest numbers for an episode introducing a new Doctor since the 2005 series revival starring Christopher Eccleston.
The 2017 holiday episode, “Twice Upon A Time,” marked Peter Capaldi’s exit from the series as the Twelfth Doctor. The episode was praised as a fulfilling conclusion to Capaldi’s journey, tying together storylines with his companions Clara Oswald, Bill Potts, and Nardole, as well as the First Doctor (originally played by William Hartnell), and Rusty, the “good Dalek.” “Resolution,” the first holiday special to air on New Year’s day instead of Christmas Day, saw Whittaker face and defeat a lone Dalek that was dormant on Earth for centuries. Some fans were elated at the hope of more classic Doctor Who villains appearing in the future. However others continue to be put off from watching due to what they feel are bigger problems with the show’s direction.
BBC America reports that overall ratings for “Resolution” fell by almost 30 percent compared to “Twice Upon A Time.” Whittaker’s special pulled in 1.4 million viewers on average (552,000 in the 18-49 key demographic), and Capaldi’s exit took in 1.7 million with 778,000 in the key demo. However, season 11 did see an overall life improvement compared to Capaldi’s season 10, with average episode viewership rising from 1.3 to 1.6 million (via TheWrap).
The results were similar on BBC One, as reported by Digital Spy, where overnight ratings for this year’s special came out to 5.15 million, compared to “Twice Upon A Time’s” 5.7 million. Across the pond, many viewers took to Twitter to express their displeasure with the episode’s BREXIT reference, which fit into season 11’s recurring theme aimed at social issues. The GCHQ’s response to being called out, on the other hand, provided a lot of laughs.
For Doctor Who, the New Year’s Day airing may have been a strategy to reach viewers more likely to be at home. However the lower viewership could be attributed to the hook for the special being primarily dependent on the Daleks, who are always entertaining, but nothing new. Holiday episodes like “Twice Upon A Time” and “The Time of the Doctor” performed well, because they led up to an always-emotional regeneration of the Doctor. The success of a special like “Voyage of The Damned” was helped by the star power of Kylie Minogue, not to mention a premise as colorful and outlandish as a Titanic spaceship. With season 12 of the show filming in the spring, and due by 2020, the wait is on for the Doctor’s next set of adventures.