Doctor Who Matt Smith Christmas 2011 SpecialNormally here in the US, television on Christmas Day means repeats and movie marathons but in the UK, they are treated with original episodes of their most popular series. The UK ratings for Christmas Day have come in and ‘Doctor Who’ has been rated as the third most watched show for that day.

Traditionally, Christmas Day in the UK has families gathering around the TV to watch what new episodes will air. Usually only the biggest and most popular programs get shown on that day which may explain why ‘Doctor Who’ gets big viewing numbers over there on Christmas. This year, ‘The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe’ brought in preliminary numbers of 8.9 million viewers with a peak viewing of 9 million. With the UK population about 1/5 of that in the US, this is equivalent to having 40 million people here watching the episode. Also of note, more British viewers watched ‘Doctor Who’ than watched the Queen’s speech which was simulcast on two networks and averaged around 8.2 million viewers. (Although, I believe it’s still more than those who watch President Obama’s State of the Union address comparatively.)

Christmas episodes of ‘East Enders’ and ‘Coronation Street’ beat out ‘Doctor Who’ with 9.9 million and 9.0 million views respectively. Apparently, more Brits would rather watch a soap opera about an abusive psychopath burning down a bed and breakfast and find out if Yusef would kill Zainab or if Denise would hand Phil over to the police than watch a show filled with the sentimentality of Christmas.

This year in the US more people were probably watching television on Christmas Day than usual as the first games of the NBA season aired after the long lock-out. As for how well ‘Doctor Who’ did here on BBC America, we’ll just have to wait until the numbers come in on Wednesday. Last year’s ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas episode, ‘The Christmas Carole’, had about 750,000 viewers but with the increase popularity of the show this year’s numbers may be higher.

So what did you watch on Christmas Day? And if you missed the ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas episode, you can read the recap of ‘The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe’ here!