The debut of Peter Capaldi as the Time Lord in the new series of Doctor Who was a ratings winner for BBC1.

At its peak the programme was watched by 7.3 million people, according to official viewing figures.

The BBC said it was the most watched opening episode of a Doctor Who series since 2010.

The surprise reappearance of Capaldi’s predecessor, Matt Smith –  talkingn to Clara (Jenna Coleman) in the closing moments of the show – was greeted with joy by many fans and writer Steven Moffat described it as “the fastest return ever on Doctor Who!”.

“It just felt utterly right for what we were planning for Peter’s Doctor,” said Steven, “and right for Matt’s Doctor, that he would think of that as he was just about to go out the door.”

Doctor Who continues on BBC1, Saturday, August 30, 7.30pm.