Last Alteration: Tuesday 21 September 2021
This page looks at the ratings seen for the 2006 series of Doctor Who, and places the show in context with the programmes around it. Data is based upon the public figures made available by the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board, which covers the weekly sweep of the top thirty programmes rated on the main terrestrial channels, plus overnight information presented by ViewingFiguresTV.
Note: BARB figures run to w/e the Sunday, so figures are rated on weekday programmes leading up to each episode.
If you think you've seen it all ... think again
Series Two was launched rather quietly this year at a press screening in Cardiff on Tuesday 28th March - however, even then the exact date and time of broadcast wasn't formally announced, to the point that the BBC Press Office release guides for the week commencing 15th April had the show "unplaced" and a "tbc" in the slot where we widely expected it to be ... finally the formal time of 7:15pm on the 15th April was revealed on the 5th. In the meantime ITV1 had also been quiet on what would face the series in that slot, ultimately revealed to be Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Trailers began on Saturday 1st April, with a 60 second version featuring the Doctor in the TARDIS behaving quite bizarrely(!) and clips from the first few episodes of the season. This was repeated regularly over the following fortnight in additional 40 and 20 second variations. Wednesday 12th April then introduced a 20 second trailer specific to New Earth itself. And then Thursday we were treated to a three minute preview running on BBC Digital - phew!
Other publicity on television included a Doctor Who Night on Sunday 9th April, featuring an hour long documentary on the new series from the Confidential team as well as repeats of The Christmas Invasion and The Story of Doctor Who; both BBC3 and UKTV Gold also broadcast the entire first series in the run-up to broadcast. Interview segments appeared on ITV1(1) with GMTV and This Morning (presented by "Captain Jack" John Barrowman in the week before Easter), and CBBC presented a new tie-in show Totally Doctor Who, plus a devoted segment on their digital text page 570.
15th April 2006: New Earth
Being some four weeks later and not the new phenomenom of last year, would the ratings stand up this time around? Well, the overnight figures proved that the series still had drawing power, with the premiere being not only the highest-rated BBC programme for the evening, but achieved the highest viewing figures across all channels for the night!
New Earth was watched by an average of 8.0 million viewers, with a high of 8.3 million towards the end of the show; it achieved an audience share of 38.6% share. ITV1's broadcast of The Chamber of Secrets maintained an average of 5.0 million (25.4%). The overall top five for the evening saw the BBC's Doctor Who, Casualty (7.0 million, 32.7%), and Lottery Jet Set (6.2 million), and then ITV1's Harry Potter and Who Wants to be a Millionaire (4.7 million).
The BARB figures are due out on the 25th April ...
The final BARB figures confirmed Doctor Who's strong performance on Saturday evening, and indeed for the whole of week, being beaten only by Eastenders on BBC1 and in combination with Coronation Street on ITV1; this is the best chart position the general series has attained since it's return in 2005, and matches the position reached by The Christmas Invasion last year - uncannily, the show also managed to knock the Thursday Eastenders into fifth place again, too!
22nd April 2006: Tooth and Claw
Another 20 second trailer for this story, first appearing on BBC1 after the film Terminal Velocity at around 1:10am, and then during Sunday, where it was accompanied by a terrestrial broadcast of the Interactive trailer that had been running the week before on digital. Further publicity fell in the form of an article on Wednesday's Blue Peter on how to build the exterior of the TARDIS (interior in a forthcoming programme) and also the launch of a missing episode appeal.
In the lead up to the episode itself, many of the audience watching the football must have been rooted to the spot, hoping that Liverpool's lead would not be broken (with even Gary Lineker saying "Doctor Who fans hold on!". And hold on we did, with the overnight ratings showing that once again Doctor Who was the highest rated show of the evening, with some 8.9 million viewers watching the episode (42.3% audience share); ITV's repeat broadcast of a Midsomer Murders managed 3.3 million (17.7%). Casualty suffered relatively badly, with a mere 6.1 million viewers (26.8% share) putting it into 5th place overall as it was just beaten by ITV's competition in An Audience with Coronation Street (6.1m, 26.9%). The rest of the Top 5 were Match of the Day (4:45pm, 2nd, 6.6m), and The National Lottery (9:00pm, 3rd, 6.2m).
The BARB figures confirm Doctor Who as the top Saturday show for the second week, and the highest non-soap of the week, only beaten by the four Eastenders and five Coronation Street installments.
For the week in general, a new series of New Tricks on the Monday achieved 7.62 million, and Tuesday's Holby City at 6.64m meant that Casualty slipped to eighth place in the BBC chart. The weekend also saw a new series of Sean Bean's vehicle in Sharpe's Challenge, which achieved 7.56 million viewers when up against BBC's Waking the Dead (4.92m) on Sunday.
29th April 2006: School Reunion
The trailer for this story is once again 20 seconds. Other publicity this week included an appearance by Elisabeth Sladen and K9 on the Monday edition of Blue Peter on BBC1, during which she talked about her up-and-coming appearing in this weekend's episode and what both she and her character Sarah thinks of the new Doctor!
A further appearance by Elisabeth Sladen on BBC's Breakfast on Thursday morning was followed by an ITV1 interview with Anthony Head on Entertainment Today on Friday morning, during which he talked quite extensively about his role in Doctor Who (and was subjected to a quiz!). Online, we also saw an interview with Elisabeth Sladen on BBC Norfolk and Anthony Head on BBC Somerset.
On Saturday, this weeks "opposition" by ITV took the form of the sci-fi film Hulk, which managed to attract some 2.4 million viewers with a 15.2% share; however, Doctor Who slightly beat it with 7.6 million tuning in to see the return of Sarah and K9 (39.8% share).
The viewing figure for the iconic return of arguably the classic series' best-loved companions to the Doctor's travels is somewhat lower than this time last year, when again arguably the most popular enemy made it's reappearance in the show - Dalek saw 7.83 million tune in. However, the audiences were down in general this year, and in real terms Doctor Who once again hit the top slot for Saturday evening entertainment. Indeed. of the programmes of the day, the top five were once again BBC programmes!
The ratings were also down in comparison to last week, but the Bank Holiday weekend weather (at least for the start) was much warmer, meaning many of those extra viewers would have been out enjoying the sunny day and be back by the time Casualty started (7.4m, 35.5%) - the BARB results should see an improvement to the general programme figures as the recordings are taken into account ... will that be enough to maintain Doctor Who's top position?
The BARB results brought Doctor Who's audience up to 8.31 million, and assured that it maintained its position as the highest rated non-soap of the week on any channel. The four Eastenders took their inevitable top slot in the BBC chart, and with ITV1's Coronation Street, Monday's Emmerdale and Heartbeat taking the other higher places to slip the programme into twelfth place overall.
Hulk didn't make it into ITV1's Top 30 ...
6th May 2006: The Girl in the Fireplace
After the last three weeks' worth of trailers for the series, it was something of a surprise to find hardly any publicity during the lead-up to this week's episode; the only pre-Saturday trailer appeared during the end-credits for the Friday evening Neighours; Saturday, however, saw the show advertised as "The One To Watch" throughout the day. Friday morning's GMTV stalwart Richard Arnold did make it "Pick of the Day", concentrating on Sophia Myles's role in the show.
However this didn't appear to impact Doctor Who's performance, with the show once again achieving the highest rating for Saturday evening with 7.4 million viewers (a 36.6% share of the audience). ITV1's competition again took the form of a film, this time the premiere of Peter Pan which was watched by 3.3 million (17.5%).
Casualty was once again the second most-watched programme, with 6.8 million (31.5%), followed by other evening BBC1 offerings National Lottery (6.1m, 29.7%) and Strictly Dance Fever results (4.7m, 22.2%); ITV1's new show Ultimate Force achieved sixth place at 4.1m (20.1%), beaten to fifth by the long-running Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (4.3m, 20.1%).
The BARB results showed that Doctor Who maintained it's top slot for Saturday evening, but Monday's New Tricks just beat it as the highest rated BBC drama that week into 5th place with 8.58 million viewers; other places were occupied by the usual soaps. The main edition of Strictly Dance Fever failed to chart at all, indicating the wealth of viewers that returned to Doctor Who when that started!
Peter Pan did make it into ITV's chart for that week; other films playing during the week included the three Matrix films, achieving 3.80m (Mon against New Tricks), 3.05m (Tues, against A Life of Grime - 5.17m), and 3.18m (Weds, against one off drama Angel of Death - The Beverly Allitt Story - 4.86m) respectively.
The heavily-trailed BBC1 drama Krakatoa eventually pulled in 6.74m viewers, narrowly beating ITV1's Paul McGann drama If I Had You (6.51m).
13th May 2006: Rise Of The Cybermen
Trailers were back on the screen again this week, with the usual 20 second montage of clips to interest us. Unexpectedly, Richard Lloyd-Pack made an appearance the week before, on Tuesday's Breakfast to talk about his forthcoming appearance. Further coverage on Blue Peter, who will present a special on behind the scenes of the show the coming Monday, and Richard Arnold gushed on about Cybermen in both his slots on GMTV/Entertainment Today on Friday morning.
Saturday schedules were thrown out by the FA Cup final match over-running (two teams unable to score clear goals!), and this meant that Doctor Who ended up broadcast some twenty minutes later than scheduled. However, this did not appear to cause any problems - if anything it was more beneficial with a steady increase of viewers pushing the average to 8.64m (40% of the audience total), and a general audience of well over 9 million for the story finale (presumably as X-Men on ITV1 finished!).
The film itself managed an average of 3 million viewers (15.8% share) opposite Strictly Dance Fever (5.7m/33.5%) and Who of course, but also suffered from the football overrunning. The rest of the evening showed that once again Doctor Who was the highest-watched show, with Casualty taking the expected second place with 7.1 million (33.7%).
For this time last year, Father's Day achieved 8.06m as it's final figure, and the initial ratings spread look as if the Cybermen's return will even beat the Daleks! The BARB results will reveal all in 10 days ...
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