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EastEnders gets new slot as Friday show scrapped and Doctors goes primetime



The BBC has revealed a major shakeup of the schedule which will see EastEnders airing on a Wednesday for the first time while the Friday show is scrapooed – and daytine soap Doctors will get a regular primetime airing.

EastEnders will get its own permanent slot at 7.30pm for every episode, from Monday to Thursday, the same time as Emmeredale on ITV, reports The Mirror.

The changes mean EastEnders will air on Wednesday nights for the first time, while the current Friday outing will be dropped.

Soap fans will also get the chance to watch Doctors in primetime, as the daytime show will now be repeated Mon-Thurs on BBC2 at 7pm.

The changes, which come into play next month, were sparked by ITV’s announcement that Coronation Street is switching to an hour-long format three times a week while Emmerdale will be “stripped” across the week at 7.30pm.

BBC bosses says they are no longer concerned about avoiding soap clashes because viewers can catch-up on iPlayer or by watching the BBC3 omnibus at weekends.

Similarly, viewers can watch Emmerdale and Coronation Street at a different time by using the +1 channels or on-demand via ITVHub.

One BBC source explained: “Bosses made the decision to change up the schedule when ITV made their announcement. In the past, if there was ever a clash between the soaps it was the audience who lost out, but viewers consume TV differently these days.

“It’s no longer about the overnight ratings because they don’t reflect the true picture of who is tuning in. You only have to look at the numbers watching EastEnders on iPlayer, the figures are pretty incredible.”

BBC Studios’ continuing drama chief Kate Oates told the Mirror: “We’re delighted that, from March 7, there will be new regular time slots for EastEnders on BBC1, and Doctors on BBC2.

“Both shows have a loyal following; and this new simplified schedule means it’s even easier for viewers to get their fix, as well as being able to watch whenever and wherever they choose on iPlayer.

“A 7pm time slot gives a whole new audience chance to enjoy the drama in Leatherbridge; while EastEnders’ new 7.30pm slot begins with a hugely exciting week, as killer Gray Atkins is finally exposed.”

From early March, Coronation Street will air as three hour-long episodes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8-9pm while Emmerdale moves to a later slot Monday to Friday at 7.30pm, with the Thursday episode a double-length special.

Announcing ITV’s changes last month, boss Kevin Lygo explained: “We know that, as with all dramas, viewers increasingly watch them whenever, and however they choose. The new scheduling means that viewers can watch them live on TV in one go in a continuous soap fix, as well as on ITV Hub where they are regularly in the most watched shows every month.”

ITV’s changes were prompted by the desire to run an hour-long news bulletin from 6.30-7.30pm, fronted by Mary Nightingale.




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