Doctor Who has peaked – so what?

I got drawn (slightly) into one of those pointless on-line arguments where one persons shouts and the other tries to be rational. Waste of time. A certain kind of argument has been used by fans for years: the show is failing, it’s all because of XXX, we should sack XXX and do XXXX. My position is a mix of calm down, look at context and more importantly so what? I’ll use ratings as a proxy for relative success. It’s not foolproof, but lets us have a debate (OK a rant).

Ratings disaster?

Ratings are difficult to get your head behind. There are on the day and various catch-up figures to wade through. In the UK (at least) many tabloids have leapt at the chance to damn the Jodie Whittaker series and cast doubt on everything Thirteenth Doctor. But it isn’t that easy.

Ratings are like any other kind of statistic – you can paint any story you want (ask the politicians).

Rather than me bore you, have a look at:

A lot of good work here and it boils down to don’t panic. Of course, I still believe the show has peaked. More on that later…

The debate I was involved in blamed a decline in toys in shops on the Sunday night slot (and everything else in the current incarnation). Of course as many blamed the previous administration for the end of the world as well.

The argument of the doomsayers

Some of it is attention seeking, some is fear, some is bigotry from those wanting to berate Chris Chibnall’s production decisions. The narrative seems to be this:

It was all better when it was RTD. David Tennant took over from the underused Christopher Eccleston, everyone loved the show, it won awards, got mentioned everywhere, kids in schoolyards watched it. It was massive…

The argument then goes on to say:

Let’s just put X, Y and Z back to how they were and it will all be fine. (And there will even be honey for tea if you’re good).

These are the same people who complain about life, have a holiday and find fault with that as well. The common factor is them!

We can’t (even for Doctor Who!) rewind. Even if we put all the pieces back to 2005, the audience has changed. The world has changed. We have had the novelty, we’ve had a part remembered show reappraised, we’ve had older fans rejoicing and spreading the word.

We now have even more viewing alternatives, even more excellent TV shows to watch and even more ways to watch them.


But it is still doomed…

Guess what? At some stage Doctor Who will not be shown. It happened before, it will happen again. Things ebb and flow. It’s natural I’m afraid (yes I know about the Archers and the Shipping Forecast).

Peter Davison talks wisely on this topic. In a DWM interview a few years back he was enjoying the show’s resurgence but also clear it would fade at some stage. He also made the same point (AFAIR) in the extras to 1963: Fanfare for the Common Men. He was mostly talking about the Beatles, but it’s the same point.

At some stage we’ll be back to just DWM, fan fiction, hopefully some books and Big Finish. Nobody will die. Nobody is diminished jus because their favourite TV program isn’t on TV anymore. They can be disappointed, but life is more than that.

End of rant!

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