Doctor Who sets BBC America record

Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt in Doctor WhoMatt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt (left to right) played different generations of the Doctor

The US broadcast of Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary episode The Day of the Doctor was watched by an average of 2.4 million, a record for BBC America.

One of the last episodes to feature current Doctor Matt Smith, it was simulcast to fans around the world.

Despite having a Saturday afternoon slot in the US, the show achieved BBC America’s best ratings, with a peak time repeat upping the total to 3.6m.

It was also shown in cinemas worldwide, coming third at the UK box office.

Special 3D screenings of The Day of the Doctor played at 440 UK cinemas, taking £1.8 million.

Box office figures from Rentrak show it was beaten only by the opening of Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire and space drama Gravity.

The Day of the Doctor was shown simultaneously in 75 countries and on more than 1,500 cinema screens worldwide, with US events selling out in 11 cities.

Starring Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt as different generations of the Doctor, the episode also featured cameos from former Doctor Tom Baker and future star Peter Capaldi.

UK screenings broke the European record for alternative content, according to the Financial Times.

David Hancock, of research company IHS Screen Digest, told the newspaper: “That’s the sort of number that’s going to get people’s attention, including other TV production companies.”

Doctor Who stars Jenna Coleman and Matt SmithJenna Coleman plays Clara, The Doctor’s latest assistant

The UK television broadcast of the episode, on BBC One, was seen by 10.2m, Doctor Who’s highest overnight ratings since 2010.

The show has been airing on BBC America since 2008. According to Variety, it previously drew its largest audience with the seventh season premiere in September 2012.

That episode was watched by 1.55m viewers, which rose to 2.47m later that week when on-demand viewings were included in the figures.

BBC America used the hype surrounding Saturday’s Doctor Who anniversary episode as a platform to launch new BBC drama Atlantis on the channel.

It also broke a record by attracting an average audience of 838,000 viewers – the best ratings for a series launch on the network.

Meanwhile, more details of the forthcoming Doctor Who Christmas special, The Time of the Doctor, have been released by the BBC.

The episode will see the Doctor and assistant Clara, played by Jenna Coleman, heading to a quiet backwater planet to learn what some strange signals mean for his fate and that of the universe.

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