David Tennant's final outing as "Dr Who" was watched by 10.4 million TV viewers in Britain on New Year's Day.
At the climax of the episode, 10.8 million viewers tuned in to see the Time Lord regenerate into his 11th incarnation, played by 27-year-old Matt Smith.
Tennant's final words on the 75-minute episode were: "I don't want to go".
A critic in The Guardian compared the final episode to Hamlet - a role which Tennant played with the Royal Shakespeare Company last year.
The BBC reports the show was the highest-rated programme in its time-slot. Coronation Street took second place, with 8.6 million viewers.
However, both had lower ratings than an episode of EastEnders, which attracted an audience of 11.6 million.
A preview for the new series is available on the official Dr Who website. The BBC reports it shows Smith hitting a Dalek with a mallet and shouting what seems set to become his catchphrase: Geronimo!