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Now Doctor Who is lording it... all across the world

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IT'S the show made in Wales that had the whole world watching.

Saturday's night's triumphant 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who rewrote the record books receiving a Guinness World Record for the world's largest ever simulcast of a TV drama.

The one-off special, made in Cardiff by BBC Wales, set a new world record after being broadcast in 94 countries across six continents following a massive global campaign. In addition to the TV broadcast, the episode was screened in more than 1,500 cinemas worldwide, including in the UK, US, Canada, Latin America, Germany, Russia and Scandinavia.

More than half a million tickets were sold for the theatrical screenings at which fans were able to watch the episode in 3D.

The 50th anniversary Doctor Who was its most watched episode since Christmas Day 2010. The BBC One special peaked with 10.61m viewers, a 41.2% share of the Saturday night viewing figures, averaging a massive 10.18m viewers, giving it a 37.4% share. It comfortably beat The X Factor, which dropped to 7.67m viewers, a 28.6% audience share.

However, Doctor Who wasn't the most watched programme of the day. Strictly Come Dancing narrowly beat it peaking with a series high of 11.74m viewers.

First broadcast on BBC One on November 23, 1963, Doctor Who is already in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful sci-fi series.

The new award was presented by Craig Glenday, editor-in-chief of Guinness World Records, to the show's executive producer and head writer Steven Moffat at the weekend-long Doctor Who Celebration at London's ExCeL exhibition and convention centre.

Moffat said: "For years the Doctor has been stopping everyone else from conquering the world. Now, just to show off, he's gone and done it himself. I speak from personal experience when I say that there's nothing better the morning after your 50th birthday than knowing you've still got it. Happy birthday, Doctor - go get 'em you old devil."

Tim Davie, from BBC Worldwide, added: "We knew we were attempting something unprecedented in broadcast history, not only because Doctor Who is a drama, unlike a live feed event such as a World Cup football match or a royal wedding, but because we had to deliver the episode in advance to the four corners of the world so that it could be dubbed and subtitled into 15 different languages.

"If there was any doubt that Doctor Who is one of the world's biggest TV shows, this award should put that argument to rest - and how fitting for it to receive such an accolade in its 50th year."

The TV extravaganza saw Peter Capaldi make his first brief appearance as The Doctor - along with each of his past regenerations, including a surprise cameo return for Tom Baker who bowed out as the fourth Doctor in 1981.

The 75-minute show had been under a veil of secrecy for months and was the climax of weeks of celebrations on TV, radio and with a huge fan convention in east London.

The anniversary episode saw The Doctor rewrite history by avoiding the annihilation of his planet Gallifrey, and instead freezing it in time and dispatching it to an unknown place in the universe.

Capaldi, who was announced as the next face of The Doctor, was glimpsed only fleetingly as his eyes looked towards the camera. And many of the other Doctors were seen in archive footage, with CGI used to bring them together in a line-up at the show's climax.

The programme brought together current Doctor Matt Smith and his predecessor David Tennant, along with a previously barely seen regeneration played by John Hurt.

For Doctor Who fanatic Michael Williams, who runs the world's longest-running Doctor Who quiz - the Cardiff-based Quiz Of Rassilion, there was huge excitement as he watched the climactic episode at the British Film Institute in London, alongside former Doctors Matt Smith, John Hurt and Sylvester McCoy. "I was at the ExCel running pub quizzes during the weekend and was offered a ticket for the BFI," he said. "The 50th anniversary was the best episode of anything that's ever been done ever. It was the kind of thing you tell your grandkids about. John Hurt was about six feet down from us on the same row, the fans were loving it, but the second Peter Capaldi came on it was like an eruption, the audience went wild. That reaction was the single most memorable reaction I've ever had to Doctor Who."

Williams added that the storyline couldn't have been bettered.

"I didn't know that Gallifrey was going to survive and that there would all 13 doctors in it at the end which was so good.

"And it sets up the Christmas special really nicely as well then, because it sounds like the Doctor is looking for his home, he's looking for Gallifrey and wanting to bring it back."

While Matt Smith will regenerate into Peter Capaldi during next month's Christmas special, for the future the series could feature a female doctor.

According to Steven Moffat he has already put plot lines and references in previous shows to make this scenario a possibility.

"There is absolutely no reason why a woman can't play Doctor Who," he said while appearing at the Doctor Who Celebration at the ExCel.

However Moffat added it was important to get the right person for the role, whatever their gender.

GRAPHIC: History in the making... Matt Smith, left, David Tennant, centre, and John Hurt, right, during the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who - Day of the Doctor

Doctor Who executive producer Steven Moffat, and actors Matt Smith and Jenna Louise Coleman onstage at the Doctor Who 50th anniversary celebration with the Guinness World Record certificate for the largest simulcast of a TV drama

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  • APA 6th ed.: Owens, David (2013-11-25). Now Doctor Who is lording it... all across the world. Western Mail p. 3.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Owens, David. "Now Doctor Who is lording it... all across the world." Western Mail [add city] 2013-11-25, 3. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Owens, David. "Now Doctor Who is lording it... all across the world." Western Mail, edition, sec., 2013-11-25
  • Turabian: Owens, David. "Now Doctor Who is lording it... all across the world." Western Mail, 2013-11-25, section, 3 edition.
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