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8M watch debut of new 'Doctor Who' star

Actor Matt Smith, star of the Dr. Who television series, arrives on the red carpet before a screening of the British film Fish Tank at the 62nd annual Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France on May 14, 2009. (UPI Photo/David Silpa)
Actor Matt Smith, star of the Dr. Who television series, arrives on the red carpet before a screening of the British film "Fish Tank" at the 62nd annual Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France on May 14, 2009. (UPI Photo/David Silpa) | License Photo

LONDON, April 5 (UPI) -- About 8 million viewers tuned in to watch the debut of Matt Smith in the title role of British television's "Doctor Who," the BBC said.

Smith is the 11th actor to play the iconic time traveler in the long-running science-fiction series. At 27, he is also the youngest actor to play the part.

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His first episode aired Saturday night. Its viewership peaked at 8.4 million and averaged 8 million, the BBC said Monday.

Scottish actor David Tennant, who had played the Doctor since 2006, left the show in January.

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