Doctor Who Christmas Special Becomes BBC America’s Top Telecast

Durable sci-fi series turns 50 this year

As it approaches the half-century mark, it's looking like Doctor Who may be BBC America's biggest transcontinental success. The Christmas Day special got just under a 1 in the demo—the best any telecast has ever done on the BBC's stateside network.

Doctor Who went from strength to strength in terms of pure popularity since its 2005 revival under the hand of Queer as Folk creator Russell T. Davies, and it's claimed even more fans since popular writer Steven Moffat took the helm in 2010. But the show suffered for years (as do many sci-fi and fantasy series) from rampant piracy since BBC America didn't air the show day-and-date with the U.K. broadcast until 2011, mostly due to the vagaries of its parent organization's international structure.

Now, with no way to sneak a look at the popular series "early," the show has become one of BBC America's stalwarts. Popular fantasy writer Neil Gaiman has thrown his considerable cultural weight behind the show (Gaiman has penned two episodes of the series, one of which will air later this year), and its success has helped to raise the network's profile. The net is now investing in its own scripted drama series (Tom Fontana's Copper), in addition to co-productions with the BBC (The Hour and Luther, both of which received Golden Globe noms), and reached 80 million households in distribution this year.