Viewers desert EastEnders in record numbers

Last updated at 16:35 18 May 2007

EastEnders slumped to its lowest ever audience share last night as viewers flocked to rival soap Emmerdale.

Emmerdale's one-hour special on ITV1 finally revealed who had killed Tom King.

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An average audience of 8.6 million watched the show, peaking at 9.1 million for the moment Tom's son Carl confessed to the murder.

That represented a 44% share of the available viewing audience.

On BBC1, EastEnders had just four million viewers.

Its 19.6 per cent share was the lowest for the soap since records began.

The ratings were also the second lowest in the show's history - beaten only by a 3.9 million audience in July last year, when EastEnders also went head-to-head with Emmerdale.

Emmerdale was broadcast from 7pm-8pm, while EastEnders went out from 7.30pm-8pm.

Even a former EastEnder's star is tuning out - Michelle Collins recently slammed the program for being too violent.

Collins told the Daily Express: "There was this really horrible scene and I thought, 'I don't want to watch this, not at four in the afternoon with my 10-year-old thank-you'."

An EastEnders spokeswoman said the ratings were low only because the soaps were scheduled against one another.

"It is viewers who miss out when the soap audience is split by ITV scheduling Emmerdale directly against EastEnders," she said.

Last Friday's episode was watched by an average audience of nine million, peaking at 9.8 million, she added.

Last night's BBC3 catch-up show, allowing viewers to see the episode at 10pm, attracted a record 1.4 million viewers.

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