13 years on, the revival of Doctor Who, kickstarted by Russell T Davies, has continued to reap benefits for the BBC. But it’s easy to overlook just how big a risk it was seen to be at the time. With a big Saturday evening slot, huge publicity and no shortage of fanfare, it was still very pleasant to see that debut episode Rose drew in 10.8 million viewers. But as Russell T Davies has revealed in a new column in Doctor Who Magazine, that wasn’t the most significant moment.
No. He said “the most significant moment was the Sunday morning after The Unquiet Dead”, the third episode in the run, penned by Mark Gatiss. Numbers had fallen for the second episode, The End Of The World, as had been expected. But would that go up or down for episode three, giving a very real indicator as to how the show was going down?
“Had we pushed people away?”, mused Davies. “On Saturday 9 April 2005 I watched The Unquiet Dead’s ghosts and zombies rising from the grave and it felt a bit symbolic. I thought, this is it. Life or death. On this night, the Doctor stands or falls”.
“And on Sunday morning, 10 April, the figures came in. 8.8 million. We went up. Up!”
Doctor Who was not just secured. It was already thriving again. And the rest – to date – was history…!
The new issue of Doctor Who Magazine is on sale now. It’s website is here.