ITV benefits as EastEnders slumps to 6.2m all-time low

LONDON - BBC One mainstay 'EastEnders' hit an all-time ratings low last night with only 6.2m viewers as ITV's second most popular soap 'Emmerdale' overtook the corporation by almost 2m viewers.

For the BBC, the soapy low means that it secured only a 30.2% audience share. 'EastEnders' is expected to average around the 10m mark, giving it a share approaching 50%. Last night's poor performance is adding fuel to the fire that 'EastEnders' could be on its way out.

In comparison, an hour-long edition of 'Emmerdale' on ITV1 secured 8.1m viewers and a 41.5% audience share.

Channel 4 also benefited from the lack of interest in the goings-on in Albert Square. It received higher than average audience figures for its repacked repeat of property show, 'Relocation Relocation: Revisited', which won 3.1m or 14.6% at 8pm, while 'Too Posh to Wash', a new series starring dirt busters Kim and Aggie, attracted 3.3m and a 15% share at 8.30pm.

Five's two hour-long instalments of US crime import 'CSI: Miami' bolstered its audience share to 11.7% and 11.4% at 9pm and 10pm respectively, proving that the smaller terrestrial broadcasters are making a mark on the schedules.

'EastEnders' worst recorded ratings coincide with its executive producer Louise Berridge announcing that she is to leave the BBC One soap after three years at the helm.

According to Berridge: "I've loved every minute of my time on 'EastEnders', but felt it the right time to move on to new challenges. It's been a privilege to lead BBC One's number one show through the last two years, even when faced with the unexpected."

She is to be replaced by the executive producer of 'Holby City', Kathleen Hutchison.

'EastEnders', which debuted in 1985, used to be the most popular show on television, but is now regularly beaten by commercial broadcasters' shows like the revived 'Coronation Street' on ITV1 and 'Big Brother' on Channel 4.

'EastEnders' has recently come under fire for weak storylines and characters, which have coincided with the ratings decline.

In July this year, Leslie Grantham, who plays "Dirty" Den Watts, was involved in an internet sex scandal, which provoked arguments with cast members. That month 'EastEnders'' audience dropped to 6.3m viewers during a Tuesday night episode.

The Asian Ferreira family and Vicky Fowler, who mysteriously lost her American accent overnight, have also been an unpopular casting choice.

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