Who’s talking Who?
59 years of time and space – and “the future is here.” Analyst, David Rosenbaum, has done a deep dive into all things timey-wimey this week, checking out just who is talking about everyone’s favourite Time Lord. And spoiler alert – it’s not just our Head of Engagement, Ella, this time.
On Sunday 8th May, the BBC announced that Ncuti Gatwa will be the next actor to play The Doctor. Although he is currently best known for playing Eric Effiong in Netflix’s Sex Education, being cast as The Doctor – a household name here in the UK – is kind of a big deal.
So… we got curious – just how many people were talking about the news?
On Twitter alone, talk of a new Doctor increased from just under 700 mentions on average the week before to 115,000 (on the 8th May) across the world – that’s an astronomical increase!
Mentions of Ncuti Gatwa himself increased by 970 thousand percent from the day before. It’s quite safe to say that the announcement materialised unexpectedly for pretty much everyone.
If you really want your mind blown, the tweet from the @bbcdoctorwho Twitter account is actually their most engaged tweet. At the time of writing, it has 260 thousand engagements (221 thousand likes)!
In fact, only two more of their tweets have had more than 50k likes, one being a follow-up tweet with a quote from Ncuti (which is currently at 95k engagements), and the announcement video of Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor back in July 2017 (which has 192k engagements). The Ncuti tweets haven’t been in the world that long, and they already make up two of the account’s top three tweets. So yeah, it’s safe to say people are excited!
Now, of course, the announcement of a new Doctor has always been big news. So how did this one compare to the history of the show?
Search popularity as per Google Trends tells us that – at the time of the announcement – Ncuti was 25 times more popular than his previous most popular moment (the launch of Sex Education Season 3 in September 2021).
Comparing Ncuti’s announcement to the previous Doctor’s (Jodie Whittaker), we actually see that Ncuti was very slightly more popular in search than Jodie at that time – a smidge over 1%*.
This might seem like a mere murmur in comparison, but that’s not the full story…
The announcements of previous actors were vastly different to the bombshell-social-based press release of Ncuti’s; Jodie Whittaker’s announcement was teased beforehand and then revealed in a short video during the Wimbledon Final, and Peter Capaldi was revealed in a live television special during the show’s 50th Anniversary year. When we look at the relative spikes in the search popularity of Doctor Who, Ncuti caused the biggest increase at 70%, then Jodie at 65%, and Peter at 43%.
Launching this news first on social vs other platforms was certainly an interesting move.. And one that has done very well for them to get (seemingly) the whole world talking. Oh, and hey @BBCdoctorwho… If you ever need someone to manage your socials – drop us a line.
We’re pretty sure this won’t be the last time Ncuti will be the talk of the town. Only time (and space) will tell…
*Data from Google Trends is still developing, and so at the time of writing, is still a little wibbly wobbly.
Social listening data from Pulsar, using Twitter data worldwide.
Search data from Google Trends, worldwide.