Jodie Whittaker's debut as the first female Doctor Who drew the BBC show's biggest season launch viewing figures in a decade.

Whittaker also managed to tempt more viewers than predecessors Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith and David Tennant did for the debut episodes of their stints on the much-loved sci-fi series.

An average of 8.2 million UK residents tuned in to watch the actress as the first female Doctor, with a peak of nine million and an audience share of 40.1%.

This makes the broadcast the most-watched - according to overnight ratings - since the 2008 season opened with 8.4 million.

But Whittaker was far from reaching the heights of Christopher Eccleston's debut as the Doctor when the series was revived in 2005. That first episode was watched by an average of 9.9 million.

Whittaker's first outing as the Doctor also nearly doubled the ratings for the BBC One series when compared with the first episode of the previous run in 2017, which had an average overnight audience of 4.6 million.

The episode was also a ratings hit compared with the debut of Bodyguard, one of the biggest new dramas of 2018. The political thriller opened with overnight ratings of 6.7 million when it debuted at the end of August.

Doctor Who moved from its traditional Saturday evening slot to Sunday evenings for this new era, nestled between ratings big-hitters Countryfile and the Strictly Come Dancing results show.