This compared to Peter Capaldi’s swansong season, which opened with 4.6M (25%) overnight viewers in the UK in April 2017, largely in line with 2015’s season opener.
To put this further into context, BBC One terror thriller Bodyguard opened with 6.7M viewers and a 35% share to become the biggest new drama launch of the year.
Her entrance was also bigger than debuts by previous doctors including David Tennant, Matt Smith and Capaldi.
The first season under the leadership of Chris Chibnall saw Whittaker’s Doctor joined by new friends Ryan (Tosin Cole), Yasmin (Mandip Gill) and Graham (Bradley Walsh). The next era started with the The Woman Who Fell to Earth episode, which was written by Chibnall and directed by Jamie Childs.
The episode, which featured guest stars including Sharon D. Clarke, Johnny Dixon and Samuel Oatley, saw a mysterious woman, played by Whittaker and unable to remember her own name, falls from the night sky.
“We’re really proud of it,” Chibnall told Comic-Con over the weekend. “We are standing on the shoulders of giants of television.”
“It’s so hard to convey how proud you are and be something and not share it with the most important people, the fans,” added Whittaker, who said that she wanted it to be the “norm” that future Doctors can come in all “shapes and sizes, genders, sexualities and ethnicities”.
The show was simulcast on U.S. cable network BBC America, as well as a primetime repeat, so expect domestic ratings later today.
Next up is The Ghost Monument on Sunday October 14, which sees the Doctor and her new friends, still reeling from their first encounter, trying to stay alive long enough in a hostile alien environment to solve the mystery of desolation and work out who Angstrom and Epzo are. It is written by Chibnall and directed by Mark Tonderai, it guest stars Shaun Dooley, Susan Lynch and Art Malik.