Doctor Who: The 50 Episodes With The Highest TV Ratings (Pt 2) - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: The 50 Episodes With The Highest TV Ratings (Pt 2)

Welcome back and thank you for joining us as we countdown the 25 episodes of Doctor Who with the highest TV ratings. Is your favourite among them?...

=21. The Dalek Invasion of Earth: The Daleks (28 Nov 1964)
The Dalek Invasion of Earth: Flashpoint (26 Dec 1964)
The Robots of Death: Part Two (5 Feb 1977)
The Power of Kroll: Part Two (30 Dec 1978)
City of Death: Part One (29 Sep 1979)
It's rather apt that among the six episodes of Doctor Who that open this second half of the countdown and all sit together in joint 19th place we have the first part of City Of Death. Unlike The Dalek Invasion Of Earth and the surprising appearance of The Power Of Kroll, it won't be the last time we see the Fourth Doctor adventure City Of Death in this top section of the charts, and when we do it'll leave the viewing figure of 12.40 million this installment, and the other five episodes, received in its rear-view mirror.

=19. The Web Planet: The Zarbi (20 Feb 1965)
The Web Planet: Escape to Danger (27 Feb 1965)
The second and third parts of The Web Planet, a story that despite not always being remembered as a classic sees all its six installments appear in the top 50 highest watched episodes of Doctor Who, both were watched by 12.50 million viewers.

18. The Robots of Death: Part Four (19 Feb 1977)
The Robots Of Death plays like a science fiction Agatha Christie novel, and its Art Deco creepiness still has the power to shock today. No doubt many of the 12.60 million viewers tuned in that Saturday tea-time on February 19th 1977 were watching from the comfort of behind-the-sofa.

17. Destiny of the Daleks: Episode Two (8 Sep 1979)
The opening story from season 17, Destiny Of The Daleks, is not one that will top any fan-favourite chart of best Dalek adventures, but all four of its episodes feature in the top 20 here meaning it's the most watched one of them all! And we're only just beginning as part two of the story saw 12.70 million viewers tuning in, there are much higher numbers to come.

16. The Day of The Doctor (23 Nov 2013)
The highest placed episode of Doctor Who which was also the most watched overall on the all-channel TV chart for the week (i.e. no. 1) is the 50th anniversary adventure The Day Of The Doctor. 12.80 million viewers tuned into BBC One on Saturday November 23rd 2013, but what that figure does not take into account is, as well as being simulcast around the world, The Day Of The Doctor was also shown live to 440 UK cinemas screens beginning at the same time, 7:50pm, as the TV broadcast. So popular was this 3D cinema experience that on a single showing alone it managed to place third in the UK weekend Box Office chart for w/e November 24th 2013.1

=11. The Rescue: Desperate Measures (9 Jan 1965)
The Romans: The Slave Traders (16 Jan 1965)
The Web Planet: Crater of Needles (6 Mar 1965)
The Deadly Assassin: Part Three (13 Nov 1976)
Destiny of the Daleks: Episode One (1 Sep 1979)
In joint twelfth place, all with 13.00 million viewers, we have four adventures including the highest watched installments of The Rescue, The Romans and The Deadly Assassin, part three of which features that infamous cliffhanger which caught the ire of Mary Whitehouse.

And we're into the top 10...

=9. The Robots of Death: Part Three (12 Feb 1977)
The Next Doctor (25 Dec 2008)
The Tenth Doctor's Christmas Specials all performed very well, and the one broadcast on Thursday December 15th 2008 from 6:00pm saw 13.10 million viewers tune in to see if, perhaps, the next Doctor would be revealed in The Next Doctor. He wasn't, of course, but like the installment from The Robots Of Death 31 years previously it was still a cracking adventure.

8. Voyage of the Damned (25 Dec 2007)
You may be wondering, "what's the highest watched individual episode of Doctor Who since it was revived in 2005"? And if so, I will tell you. It's this! Voyage Of The Damned, broadcast Christmas Day 2007 (it was a Tuesday btw) from 6:51pm, 13.31 million David Tennant and/or Kylie Minogue fans were all gathered around the televisual sets for some Titanic In Space shenanigans.

7. The Web Planet (13 Feb 1965)
The opening episode of The Web Planet drew an audience of 13.50 million viewers, the highest rated part of the six part serial, one of whom was a young Peter Capaldi. After being cast as the Twelfth Doctor he had this to say...
I was five when the show started. I don’t remember Doctor Who not being part of my life, and it became a part of growing up, along with The Beatles, National Health spectacles, and fog. And it runs deep. It’s in my DNA.

People look at them now and, understandably, mock the bargain-basement monsters, and the accidents and collisions that came from having virtually no time in the studio to shoot fantastically ambitious stories. But those old shows were only made to be watched once, on a flickering monochrome telly that smelled of valves and furniture polish. In that context, they succeeded immeasurably. They were triumphs of imagination.

It may surprise you now, but something like The Web Planet lived powerfully and expansively in my head for decades… until the DVDs came along and spoiled the party. But I’m glad to say that the Menoptra eventually flitted back into my dreams, where they belong.

6. The Ark In Space: Part Two (1 Feb 1975)
It's a bit of a Tom Baker-fest from here on out, beginning with the only episode from The Ark In Space, and indeed all of season 12 of Doctor Who, to feature in the top 50 chart of most watched individual episodes of Doctor Who. This is no mean feat, especially when you consider that season included Genesis Of The Daleks. With 13.60 million viewers this episode was also, at the time, the highest position Doctor Who had ever achieved in the all channel broadcast chart for that week, coming in at number 5 (a record it held for 32 years until Voyage Of The Damned placed second).

5. Destiny of the Daleks: Episode Three (15 Sep 1979)
And still its not the highest watched episode of the serial! But part three of Destiny Of The Daleks sits proudly in fifth place with 13.80 million viewers.

4. City of Death: Part Two (6 Oct 1979)
14.10 million viewers were present and correct for the second part of City Of Death. Why does this story and Destiny Of The Daleks place so highly in the countdown? Well, let's explain...

3. Destiny of the Daleks: Episode Four (22 Sep 1979)
When episode one of Destiny Of The Daleks was broadcast, ITV was three weeks into a ten-week strike which took it entirely off air with the exception of the Channel region, and all BBC programmes received a significant audience boost as a result. At the time episode three broke the record for the highest-rated episode of Doctor Who, this would be broken again the following week with this fourth and final part of the adventure which recorded an audience of 14.40 million viewers! The ITV strike would continue on for another four weeks after this, which means that all installments from City Of Death also received a boost, hence...

2. City of Death: Part Three (13 Oct 1979)
Strike or not, City Of Death is a stone cold classic and the 15.40 million viewers tuned in that Saturday were surely not disappointed by part three of the adventure.

1. City of Death: Part Four (20 Oct 1979)
The culmination of the Douglas Adams-steered masterpiece included that famous cameo from John Cleese and Eleanor Bron and a massive 16.10 million viewers were tuned in to see it wrap-up part four of City Of Death. Surprisingly it only actually placed 16th in the all-channel chart for the week - which was obviously dominated by BBC output. It's now unlikely this figure will ever be toppled, especially now there are so many more TV channels and streaming services available, so even though the BBC may scream success when The Woman Who Fell To Earth scored 10.96 million viewers, which is obviously nothing to complain about, it's still not enough to trouble this top 50 (it is currently, as of October 2020, the 72nd highest watched episode of Doctor Who).

Of course it could be argued that because of the ITV strike the numbers the final part of City Of Death received are not exactly organic - proof being, with the strike over a couple of days after this episode's broadcast, the next installment of Doctor Who, part one on Creature From The Pit, dropped down to 9.3 million viewers. But I think that's unfair. Although not universally loved at the time, City Of Death is now widely regarded as one of the top Doctor Who adventures from across the last 57 years, and if any story was going to attract this number of viewers then aren't you glad it was this one?

Notable Mentions
Throughout this countdown of the 50 episodes of Doctor Who with the highest TV ratings we've only included UK premiere broadcast viewing figures. No repeats, minisodes, or omnibus editions have been included, which means that the omnibus repeat of Pyramids of Mars, that was broadcast on 27th November 1976 and watched by a staggering 13.7 million viewers is not included. Also (and be thankful for this) we've not included Dimensions In Time. The 30th Anniversary Special was broadcast in two mini-segments as part of Children In Need and Noel's House Party, because of this viewing figures aren't exact as the majority of the audience were tuned in for the parent show which just happened to have Doctor Who included in it. But with 13.8 million and 13.6 million respectively the two installments would be right up there in the top 10

And that's your countdown of the 50 highest watched episodes of Doctor Who, Did your favourite make the chart?

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