Overnight ratings for The Power of the Doctor

source: BBC News

An average audience of 3.7 million watched Jodie Whittaker’s final Doctor Who episode, overnight figures reveal.

A peak of 4 million watched her regenerate, as it was revealed former Doctor David Tennant would return to the series next year.

Critics were broadly positive about the episode, titled The Power of the Doctor, with most awarding four stars.

But some suggested Whittaker “deserved better” for her send-off and said too much was packed into the finale.

The viewing figures are significantly lower than they were for Whittaker’s debut in October 2018, which saw an average of 8.2 million viewers tune in.

However, the ratings for her swansong will increase when viewers watching on catch-up platforms are added in the coming weeks.

BBC One’s most watched show on Sunday was Strictly Come Dancing: The Results (8 million), followed by a special edition of the Antiques Roadshow (4.4 million).

In the sci-fi drama’s finale, Whittaker was seen unexpectedly regenerating into Tennant, who previously played the Doctor, at the end of the 90-minute special.

The BBC confirmed that the popular actor, who previously played the role between 2005 and 2010, has officially returned as the 14th Doctor and will appear in three episodes next year before Ncuti Gatwa takes over.

Critics, who did not reference Tennant’s return in their initial reviews because the closing minutes were removed from preview copies, broadly praised the finale.

In a four-star review, the Telegraph’s Michael Hogan described Whittaker’s final episode as an “electrifying thrill-ride of non-stop surprises”.

“The Power of the Doctor was perhaps the best episode of [showrunner Chris Chibnall’s] patchy five-year stint as supremo,” he wrote, adding that the series “got its sense of fun back”.

“The programme’s past was honoured. Its future was launched. Only the ‘present’ part of the equation suffered. The frenetic story threw in so many playful bells and fan-pleasing whistles, it became nonsensical, as if Chibnall painted himself into a plotting corner and didn’t know how to escape.”

The Guardian’s Rebecca Nicholson also awarded four stars, writing: “This episode is bombastic, and so stuffed with Easter eggs and nods to the past that I doubt I even caught half of them, but it rolls through this meaty story with Whittaker’s trademark energy and a just-right lightness of touch.”

“Considering this is a super-long episode, it trots along at a decent speed and the pace rarely dips. Fans old and new should find plenty to delight them,” she added. “It is a great send-off for Whittaker, focused and full of feeling, which makes this an apt welcome for Gatwa, too.”

However, Dominic Maxwell of the Times was lukewarm on the episode, awarding three stars and suggesting the show was too busy to be properly digested by viewers.

“[The episode] reminded us that actually you need one or two dull bits for drama to be dramatic,” he said. “Moments where what’s happening, however intergalactic, however epoch-hopping, however sassy, has time to register. Instead it was an action-packed pageant in which almost anything could happen at any turn.

“As a result little of it felt as if it mattered all that much, even with an incarnation ending, but at least the ideas kept coming.

“So if you looked at your phone – in fact, if you blinked – you probably missed one of umpteen plot twists, cameos, fans-only callbacks.”

The Independent’s Isobel Lewis also struck a note of scepticism, suggesting Whittaker “deserved more for this end of an era”.

“The first female actor to play the Time Lord brought the show up to speed with modern times… but the scripts have often let her down a little,” she said.

Referring to the finale, Lewis added: “Among the nostalgia and Easter eggs, the relationship between the Doctor and Yaz – the thing I expected this episode to really be about – is sidelined.”

But there was another four-star review from Patrick Mulkern of the Radio Times, who said: “The Power of the Doctor does not disappoint.

“It excites. It surprises. It confounds. It confuses. It brings an erratic four-year chapter of this constantly evolving saga to a satisfying close.”

He added: “Despite an abundance of distractions, Jodie Whittaker and Mandip Gill remain the throbbing heart of the story, as the Doctor and Yaz breeze through a rollicking adventure but must prepare for a sorrowful parting… the composition of the duo, perching on top of the police box gazing at planet Earth, is gorgeous.”

Elsewhere, Metro’s Gabriel Tate concluded: “The callbacks and reunions warmed the heart without dominating the story (a spin-off series of the companion support group would be a treat), the villains were truly diabolical and it looked terrific.

“If the resolution never quite lived up to the build-up, no matter. This was frightening fun in the show’s best traditions.”

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