BBC's 'Doctor Who' Draws Biggest Season Launch Ratings Since 2010

 Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

The first episode of the eighth season of BBC hit show Doctor Who‎ on Saturday night drew an average audience of 6.8 million, making it the show's most watched season opener in the U.K. since 2010.

The full-episode debut of Peter Capaldi in the lead role of the Time Lord peaked with 7.3 million viewers on the public broadcaster's flagship network BBC One. Its average audience amounted to a 32.5 percent share of the total U.K. TV audience at the time.

The BBC announced the ratings on Sunday morning London time. Capaldi succeeded Matt Smith as the Doctor in the popular sci-fi show, which in the U.S. airs on BBC America.

The overnight ratings for Saturday's episode compared with the 6.4 million overnight average audience that had tuned into the first Doctor Who episode of season seven in September 2012. The final figure was later reported as 8.3 million. 

These figures do not include viewings via iPlayer, the BBC's digital VOD service, which has in some cases added more than 2 million viewers to the reported figure. The new season's opening ratings also compare with the 5.5 million overnight and nearly 7.5 million final ratings for the final regular episode of the seventh season.

In 2011, the opening episode of the season drew 6.5 million viewers, compared with 8 million overnight (and 10.08 million final) in 2010 when Smith made his debut as the Doctor, and 8.4 million in 2008. In 2007, the show's season opener drew 8.2 million viewers to BBC One, in 2006 it reached 8 million and in 2005 it drew 9.9 million.

In Saturday's episode, Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, who continues to play the Doctor's sidekick, ended up in Victorian London with a dinosaur running rampant.

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

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