Unofficial overnight figures show The Next Doctor was watched by 11.7 million viewers, a share of 50.5 per cent of the audience.
The rating is the highest achieved by the programme in 2008 and the second highest since the programme returned in 2005, only being beaten by last year's Christmas special.
The programme was the second-highest rated of Christmas Day and of Christmas week so far, beating EastEnders, even though the soap was shown in a much later slot. The highest-rated programme of the day was Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death with a massive 14.3 million watching.
BBC One ruled the day with the top seven places. The highest rating ITV1 could achieve was an average of 7.4 million for Coronation Street. Against the Doctor, Emmerdale could only manage 4.8 million viewers.
Doctor Who is now the tenth-most-watched programme of 2008, although this position could rise when final figures, including for those who recorded the programme and watched it later, are released by BARB in about two weeks' time.
On BBC3 Doctor Who Confidential had an audience of 0.46 million and Doctor Who: Top 5 Christmas Moments was watched by 0.48 million viewers. Gavin and Stacey: 12 Days of Christmas was the highest- rated programme on multi-channel television.