A quick note on the fortunes of this week’s television event - the nightly broadcast of Torchwood: Children of Earth. There was a lot riding on this third run for Captain Jack and his team of alien investigators. Some would even say that the future of intelligent, adult science fiction on British television was at stake here.
And thankfully we can breathe a sigh of relief because the news coming in from the overnight ratings elves is cause for some celebration, and one can imagine that corks have been popping down at BBC Wales.
Children of Earth: Day One fired an opening salvo that brought in 5.9 million viewers and a 25% share across the 9pm hour. The audience rose as the episode progressed, and has proved highly popular on the iPlayer. This rating is more than likely to spill over the 6 million mark when the consolidated figures come in. Chuck in a few thousand viewers watching the BBC HD channel, and it’s looking very respectable indeed. You might not think it’s an amazing figure, but in drama terms these days, that’s paying the rent and then some.
Tuesday’s episode two scored 5.6 million viewers with a 24% share. A drop of 300,000 is neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things (despite Broadcast using this as a negative sounding headline for its ratings round up that day). But considering it bounced right back for episode three with another 5.9 million and an impressive 27% share shows that Children of Earth has engaged with a sizable audience enough to keep them watching night after night.
Elsewhere, discussions on the Doctor Who forum gallifreybase.com (sign-up required) are indicating that the Appreciation Index figures are equally impressive, with episode one reportedly gaining an AI figure of 88, with episode 2 an impressive 90. Put in context, the average for a BBC drama is somewhere in the region of the high 70s, with anything over 80 considered to be excellent.
It’s easy to blind with numbers and make the figures work for your argument, but what’s clear from these is that the gamble with Torchwood’s format and telling a longer story over five nights has paid dividends - the audience is staying with it, and enjoying it massively to boot. Is it too early to say that season four is looking more than likely, whatever format it might take?
Elsewhere in TV Land, the BBC today unveiled some of the upcoming drama treats for the autumn schedule, and some fine looking stuff there is too, including the new series of Spooks and the marvellous looking Material Girl. Dervla Kirwan. In a nice frock!
But of interest to Torchwood fans is probably the unveiling of a clip from the forthcoming Doctor Who special, The Waters of Mars. And my word, it looks terrifying. Go and find it right here…