EastEnders bosses in “crisis” talks over flagging viewer ratings

by Lynn Connolly

It’s been reported today that BBC and EastEnders executives are to hold “crisis” talks as viewing figures for the soap seem to be in decline.

The Daily Mirror states, “For the first time in at least two years, the Albert Square soap has fallen approximately 1.5 million viewers behind Corrie for several months in a row.”

Coronation Street also won the coveted Best Soap gong at last month’s National TV Awards, and it seems the show’s bosses think that the storylines featuring the younger characters are putting off older viewers.

A show insider told the paper, “EastEnders is going through a major transition, and some of the BBC’s senior managers are concerned the show might suffer long term if well-loved characters are sidelined…

“In the last two months, viewers have seen lots of Lauren Branning, Lucy Beale, Whitney, Fatboy, Ben Mitchell, Jay, Abi Branning and Anthony Moon – but not nearly so much of the classic characters.

Phil Mitchell is currently in prison, Sam Womack quit her role as Ronnie Mitchell last year, and Shane Richie’s Alfie Moon has taken a back seat in the absence of wife Kat because Jessie Wallace is off for three months.

“At the moment there are more youngsters in Albert Square than there are in Hollyoaks.

“John [Yorke, the BBC’s head of drama] is concerned that viewers may be put off by the new stars, and wants to get it back to a more traditional feel.

“It’s a worrying time, and urgent action is planned.”

However, an EastEnders spokesperson said yesterday, “We continually discuss where the show is going every month to ensure EastEnders remains fresh and at the top of its game.

“As ratings illustrate, it is in rude health consolidating with an average of more than nine million viewers every week.”

What do you think it is that’s dragging EastEnders down at the moment?

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Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.