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'EastEnders' hits all-time ratings low

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'EastEnders' hits all-time ratings low
EastEnders equalled its lowest ever audience last night (Thursday), according to early figures.

The BBC soap pulled in an average of 6.2 million viewers and a 28.4% share of the available audience at 7.30pm, tying with last year's lowest ever ratings but ranking even lower in terms of share.

The ratings disaster was a result of ITV1 deciding to screen an hour-long Emmerdale marking the soap's 4000th episode. It averaged 8.84 million (42.1%) in the 7pm hour - although enough to triumph, not as convincing a win as the soap has previously managed during head-to-head bouts.

Commenting on the figures, a BBC spokesman said: "This is now a continuing strategy that is being employed by ITV. It is a shame as it simply means the soap fan loses out because the audience becomes split."

ITV1 cop series The Bill averaged 6.27 million (27.6%) in the 8pm hour to rank as the second most-watched show of the day. The BBC's opposing drama, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, put up a strong fight with 5.87 million (25.6%) between 8pm and 9.30pm. Fat Friends, shown on ITV1 at 9pm, entertained 5.63 million (25.9%).

Channel 4's David Kelly dramatisation The Government Inspector failed to rouse viewer interest, meanwhile, with an average of just 1.46 million (7.8%) between 9pm and 11pm. Five's coverage of Middlesbrough's UEFA clash with Sporting Lisbon was better received, drawing 1.76 million (7.9%) between 7.30pm and 10pm.

Over on multichannel, top draw was BBC Three's EastEnders repeat, which had an impressive 967,000 (7.8%) at 10pm. The best-performing first-run show was E4's ER with 528,000 (3.6%) at 9pm, plus an extra 167,000 (1.5%) via the timeshifted repeat on E4+1.

A Casanova encore drew 432,000 (5%) to BBC Three from 10.30pm, while on Sky One, 242,000 (2.2%) opted for a new Rescue Me.

ITV2's top audience was 321,000 (2.2%) for Celebrites Exposed at 9pm, although a Celebrity Fit Club repeat put in an admirable 287,000 (1.9%) in the 8pm hour.

Ratings data supplied by ViewingFigures.com

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