David Tennant’s Doctor Who return marks best ratings in four years

Leon Miller
David Tennant as the Fourteenth Time Lord on the poster for the Doctor Who 60th anniversary specialBBC

Doctor Who special “The Star Beast,” featuring the full debut of David Tennant’s Fourteenth Doctor, scores the show its best ratings since 2019.

“The Star Beast” debuted on BBC One (UK & Ireland) and Disney+ (everywhere else) on November 25. It is one of three Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials slated for release in 2023.

The two remaining entries in the trilogy, “Wild Blue Yonder” and “The Giggle,” will drop on December 2 and 9, respectively.

All three specials feature returning series headliner Tennant alongside his former co-star Catherine Tate. Tate reprises her original role, Donna Noble, whereas Tennant portrays a new incarnation of the Doctor.

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David Tennant’s Doctor Who return marks best ratings in four years

Given the pair’s fan-favorite status, Tennant and Tate’s Doctor Who comeback was one of the most talked about aspects of “The Star Beast” going into its release. And this anticipation has since translated to ratings gold, if viewership figures obtained by The Daily Mail are anything to go by.

According to the Daily Mail’s numbers, “The Star Beast” lured in “around 5 million average viewers with a peak of just more than 6 million.” That’s a significant bump from the “3.6 million average viewers with a peak of 4 million” recorded by “The Power of the Doctor” – the final episode featuring Tennant’s predecessor, Jodie Whittaker.

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What’s more, Digital Spy reports that “The Star Beast” secured Doctor Who’s biggest audience since 2019 New Year’s Day special “Resolution.” The outlet further notes that “The Star Beast” outperformed the launch of every other UK drama in 2023.

That said, how well the first Doctor Who 60th anniversary special fared outside the UK & Ireland is less clear. Disney+ still hasn’t shared any “Star Beast” viewership data, although the special ranked in the Top 5 most-watched shows in several regions.

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David Tennant makes way for Doctor Who’s new star

It remains to be seen whether Doctor Who’s high ratings will continue following Tennant’s exit, however. The Scottish actor will pass the torch to his replacement, Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa, at the end of “The Giggle.”

Gatwa will then assume leading man duties from Doctor Who’s 2023 holiday special, “The Church on Ruby Road,” onward. His first proper run of episodes will air in 2024 and will partner him with Millie Gibson as new companion Ruby Sunday.

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About The Author

Leon is a freelance Movies and TV writer at Dexerto. His past writing credits include articles for Polygon, Popverse, The Escapist, Screen Rant, CBR, Cultured Vultures, PanelxPanel, Taste of Cinema, and more. Originally from Australia, Leon is currently based in the UK.