BBC's 'Doctor Who' Season Finale Averages 5.45 Million Viewers

Doctor Who Still - H 2014
Adrian Rogers, BBC/BBC Worldwide

Doctor Who Still - H 2014

The extended episode drew the second-highest overnight ratings of Peter Capaldi's first season as the Time Lord and compared to last season's 5.46 million finale

The season finale of BBC hit show Doctor Who, starring Peter Capaldi,‎ on Saturday night drew an average audience of 5.45 million in the overnight ratings.

That compared with the 5.46 million overnight and nearly 7.50 million final viewership for the final regular episode of the previous season, which starred Matt Smith and ended in May 2013. It was above the 4.7 million overnight viewership figure that the show had brought in for its 2010 season finale, its lowest ever.

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The extended Saturday episode of the sci-fi hit show drew the second-highest overnight ratings of Capaldi's first season as the Time Lord. The 60-minute episode, written by showrunner Steven Moffat, was entitled Death in Heaven and was the second part of a two-part story started in the previous episode. It reached a share of 23.3 percent of British TV viewers in its time slot.

The figure for the final episode of season 8 of the sci-fi show, reported by ratings consultancy Attentional, is expected to get a solid boost once additional viewing via the BBC iPlayer VOD service and other catch-up viewing is included. The consolidated live-plus-seven-days audience figure for each episode of this season was at least 1.9 million above the overnight figure, according to the BBC.

Overall, the latest season has averaged 7.35 million consolidated viewers, compared with 7.45 million for the previous season, which was split into two sections.

In other Saturday night ratings in the U.K., BBC dance competition Strictly Come Dancing averaged 9.37 million viewers, and ITV's Simon Cowell singing competition The X Factor reached 8.00 million, according to Attentional.

Capaldi's first full episode as the Time Lord at the start of the season drew an average overnight audience of 6.8 million for the BBC, making it the show's most watched season opener in the U.K. since 2010 and the show's biggest audience of the season. The episode peaked with 7.3 million viewers on the public broadcaster's flagship network BBC One. Including delayed viewing, the audience climbed to 9.2 million, and full live-plus-seven-day viewing lifted that figure to 10.76 million.

The show slipped below the 5 million mark in the overnight ratings starting with the fourth episode of the season, but recently climbed back above that mark. The second-to-last episode of the season drew 5.3 million overnight viewers.

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The BBC, to accommodate the 12th season of Strictly Come Dancing, known as Dancing With the Stars in the U.S., starting Sept. 27 bumped Doctor Who to a later Saturday time slot of 8.30 p.m., the show’s latest in its history.

With the regular season over, the show's traditional Christmas special will air on BBC One next month. A promo for the special, which stars Nick Frost, aired after Saturday's episode.

The popular sci-fi show in the U.S. airs on BBC America. Capaldi's first full-time turn as Doctor Who brought the U.S. network its biggest season premiere ratings ever for the show in late August. 

Twitter: @georgszalai