Saturday 5 April 6:20PM BBC One - Doctor Who Series 4 Premiere
- A This Week In Doctor Who special report.
The BBC has confirmed the premiere time for Doctor Who Series 4 http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/news/cult/news/drwho/2008/03/26/53840.shtml . Saturday 5 April at 6:20PM on BBC One. "Partners In Crime" is the episode.
This has caused alarm in some Doctor Who fan circles. The episodes that started before 7PM UK Time in the first 3 series tended to suffer a signficant loss in total audience. Significantly fewer people are watching TV before 7PM on Saturday in the UK. At 7PM, ratings would jump, as casual audience members tuned in expecting the Doctor Who story to be starting. After seeing a ratings drop for a Dalek two parter in 2007, the BBC delayed the 2nd half of Series 3 by one week to keep the episode "42" from having to start prior to 7PM.
The situation this time - the BBC is promoting the live talent show "I'll Do Anything", and it got a 7:05PM slot for that week. It is not known yet what times Doctor Who will air in subsequent weeks, but it is likely the Doctor will continue starting before 7PM as long as the BBC wants "I'll Do Anything" in the 7PM hour.
For those of us outside the broadcast range of UK TV channels, there is little we can do but sympathize with our fellow fans. But I have an idea for UK fans, especially the fans who are worried about Doctor Who getting pilloried in the press for a drop in ratings.
Don't get mad, get even.
Doctor Who should win the ratings at 6:20PM easily enough. If word gets out about the early time, you might get a nice chunk of people to turn on their TVs 40 minutes early for once. The show can do as well as possible at 6:20PM.
Next, Doctor Who Confidential will be on BBC Three at 7:05PM. If you can get casual viewers who were looking forward to the Doctor to switch to Confidential (or any channel other than BBC One) at 7:05PM, "I'll Do Anything" might perform below expectations. Ideally, a million or more below Doctor Who. The BBC have ruled 7PM in the Springtime for 3 years - this could be the Saturday that ITV wins while BBC Three sets ratings records.
There is a Verity Lambert Tribute night on BBC Four, with lots of stuff she produced, including 3 classic Doctor Who episodes at 8:20PM. Get people watching that instead of BBC One.
BBC Three will repeat the new Doctor Who episode "Partners In Crime" on Sunday 6 April at 8PM, one day after BBC One. Get everybody you know who cannot watch that early showing to commit to this broadcast (and maybe some who will watch on the Saturday). Set some ratings records for the Doctor on BBC Three.
British tabloids will report what they like, and they might not notice a fan campaign to influence the numbers. But if the BBC sees abnormal fluctuations in their numbers caused by Doctor Who fans tuning in (and tuning out) with their TV remotes, they will notice. It is the best chance to make a case for treating the show well.
If you like these ideas, forward this message far and wide. Fans have 10 days to get Britain ready for Doctor Who and the unusual time slot. Time to get started.
Benjamin F. Elliott
This Week In Doctor Who