EastEnders bosses in 'crisis talks' with BBC
- Bang Showbiz
- 28 February 2012
'EastEnders' bosses are reportedly in crisis talks with BBC chiefs after viewing figures have slumped an estimated 1.5 million viewers behind its ITV1 rival 'Coronation Street'
'EastEnders' bosses are reportedly in crisis talks with BBC chiefs due to falling ratings.
For the first time in two years, the soap has fallen an estimated 1.5 million viewers behind its ITV1 rival 'Coronation Street', and show bosses are believed to be concerned that the recent influx of young new characters are alienating older viewers.
An insider said: "'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 (Jacqueline Jossa), Lucy Beale (Hetti Bywater), Whitney (Shona McGarty), Fatboy (Ricky Norwood), Ben Mitchell (Joshua Pascoe), Jay (Jamie Borthwick), Abi Branning (Lorna Fitzgerald) and Anthony Moon (Matt Lapinskas) - but not nearly so much of the classic characters."
John Yorke, the BBC's head of drama, is said to be concerned 'EastEnders' producer Bryan Kirkwood - who was previously at the helm of Channel 4 teen series 'Hollyoaks' - is responsible for a number of show stalwarts being sidelined in favour of youthful faces.
The source added to the Daily Mirror newspaper: "Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) 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 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, a spokesperson for the BBC One soap insisted the show still boasts an average of more than nine million viewers every week.
The spokesperson added: "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."