More than eight million viewers tuned in to watch Matt Smith make his debut in Doctor Who, according to the BBC.

Early figures indicate that the audience for the show, in which Matt appeared as the 11th incarnation of the Doctor, peaked at around 8.4m giving the BBC an audience share of 36.9 per cent.

The figures rival those of David Tennant’s first appearance as the Doctor in 2006, which also attracted around eight million viewers.

Saturday’s show saw the new Time Lord arrive on screen clinging to the open door of the Tardis as it hurtled across the London skyline.

It also saw the debut of the Doctor’s new assistant Amy Pond, played by Karen Gillan.

Doctor Who is just one of a number of shows that have performed well for the BBC over the Easter weekend, with the new series of Ashes To Ashes also proving popular. Over The Rainbow, which was shown immediately after Doctor Who, also did well with 5.5m.

By contrast, ITV’s biggest show of Saturday night was Ant And Dec’s Push The Button, which attracted 3.9m.