Doctor Who’s Ncuti Gatwa faces tough challenge for new series

Doctor Who’s Ncuti Gatwa faces tough challenge for new series

Doctor Who’s newest Time Lord Ncuti Gatwa is facing his toughest test yet – to get Disney executives on board to order another series. 

When the Sex Education star took on the role, the BBC had struck a deal with Disney rumoured to be worth $100million in the hopes that the Britain’s oldest science fiction show would dominate TVs around the world. 

To help that world domination Russel T Davies, who originally joined the show 16 years ago for a re-boot after poor ratings, was sent on a press tour across the USA to encourage more state-side viewers.

Davies hoped the deal would mean that Doctor Who would be ‘up there with your Star Wars, your Marvel stuff’.

But now the streaming giant, which signed up for two series,  must decide whether to continue.

Doctor Who’s Ncuti Gatwa faces tough challenge for new series

Ncuti Gatwa as The Doctor and Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday. The pair will be hoping that Disney+ will be back on board to renew their deal for a third series

Russel T Davies (pictured), who originally joined the show 16 years ago for a re-boot after poor ratings, was sent on a press tour across the USA to encourage more state-side viewers

Russel T Davies (pictured), who originally joined the show 16 years ago for a re-boot after poor ratings, was sent on a press tour across the USA to encourage more state-side viewers

As part of the Gatwa's Doctor Who the time-travelling duo travel back to 1963, with snazzy outfits to match and it seemed to prove a hit with viewers

As part of the Gatwa’s Doctor Who the time-travelling duo travel back to 1963, with snazzy outfits to match and it seemed to prove a hit with viewers

But Disney will have to mindful of critics as well as ratings and not everyone some suggested Doctor Who was following trends when it included a passionate kiss between The Doctor and another male character

But Disney will have to mindful of critics as well as ratings and not everyone some suggested Doctor Who was following trends when it included a passionate kiss between The Doctor and another male character

As part of the Disney deal each new episode is shown in iPlayer at midnight on friday at the same time US viewers can access it.

All of this is before it’s broadcast on traditional terrestrial TV.

This has resulted in a massive slump in live viewers  – when Gatwa made his debut on the show in May, the first episode only attracted  2.6million viewers on BBC1 and episode two compared to 3.7million people tuning in for Jodie Whittaker’s final outing as the first female Doctor, which was watched by 3.7 million in real time.

While fewer people are watching new episodes live, although some fans are staying up late to do so,  more are watching on catch up.

Doctor Who  has so far been watched by 5.9 million since the first episode was released released on May 11 — more than Whittaker’s farewell episode in October 2022.

However, while Davies has admitted the ratings are worse than expected, he said it’s been successful at targeting newer, younger viewers. 

Not only will Disney have to look at the poor ratings, they’ll also need to be mindful of the critics. 

Some have criticised the series as following trends – the first episode introduced a transgender character, Rose, played by Yasmin Finney and Gatwa’s Doctor recently engaged in a kiss with a male character.

When the deal between BBC and Disney+ which was rumoured to be worth $100million Russell T Davies assured fans that Doctor Who was still the same show (pictured, right, in 2022, with Ncuti Gatwa, left)

When the deal between BBC and Disney+ which was rumoured to be worth $100million Russell T Davies assured fans that Doctor Who was still the same show (pictured, right, in 2022, with Ncuti Gatwa, left)

Doctor Who bosses are hoping ratings are positive enough for the historic partnership to continue (stock image from 2017)

Doctor Who bosses are hoping ratings are positive enough for the historic partnership to continue (stock image from 2017)

Despite this the major company will be measuring the cult British TV show using criteria including its ranking among new subscribers and whether viewers watch right to the end of each episode. 

Disney already owns a sci-fi hits such as the Star Wars franchise, and in theory Doctor Who is a perfect fit. 

In practicality early reviews in the US were positive, but an analysis of Google Trends data has not shows a surge in interest from people searching for it online. 

The Hollywood Reporter said that Gatwa’s Doctor got ‘off to a lively and accessible, if not necessarily rousingly memorable, start’, while Variety praised Gatwa’s ‘refreshing dynamism that makes the season a uniquely mesmerising watch’. 

Chris Curtis, editor of the industry newspaper Broadcast, told The Times that in the UK, the show’s popularity is clear.

He said: ‘Its seven-day figures are averaging between 3.5 million and 4 million viewers each week, which feels decent enough. You couldn’t call it a gangbuster hit, but it’s not a flop either — maybe just a little underwhelming.’  

In light of it’s solid performance, the BBC is now waiting for Disney to decide whether they will continue for a third series.

Davies seems confident that it will go ahead, because he told The Times last month that he was already preparing scripts for it but nothing has been confirmed yet.

The new series of Doctor Who will finally reach its conclusion tonight at 6.40pm on BBC1.

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