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Friday, 3 November, 2000, 17:57 GMT
EastEnders butchers Millionaire
Chris Tarrant
Chris Tarrant: Audience went up after EastEnders
An EastEnders one-hour special trounced Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? in the TV ratings wars on Thursday night.

Some 14.9 million viewers preferred to watch Peggy Butcher discover her husband Frank's affair with friend Pat Evans on BBC One, rather than see Kate Heusser, 44, play her way to winning 500,000 on ITV's top game show.

Millionaire? scored just 5.8 million viewers when it began at 2000 GMT, halfway through the EastEnders drama.

But the quiz show won viewers back from 2030 GMT, with 11.9 million people choosing presenter Chris Tarrant over Anne Robinson and The Weakest Link: Champions League, watched by 6.1 million.

Anne Robinson
Anne Robinson: Foreign broadcasters "mesmerised"
The Weakest Link is one of the BBC's success stories. A BBC Two show, its Champions League on BBC One is spearheading the battle for evening ratings, after the BBC news was moved to 10pm.

The quiz sees contestants vote against each other to win a potential 10,000 prize, while Robinson decribes their efforts and sneers at evicted contestants as "the weakest link".

But Anne Robinson need not worry just yet. Tuesday night's Champions League show netted 7.8m viewers, almost feeling the collar of The Bill on ITV, which had 8.2m.

The Weakest Link is also set to join the Teletubbies as a global moneyspinner worth up to 30m over the next five years.

BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm, is tying up deals for the programme format with broadcasters around the world.

Negotiations are being held with companies in countries including the United States, Germany, Italy, Australia, Portugal and Turkey.

They are amazed at how tough and forthright she is, and that people queue up to take part in the show

Colin Jarvis, BBC Worldwide
Millionaire has already hit the jackpot with producers Celador selling an identical format around the globe.

Profits from the sales of Teletubbies have been ploughed into producing new shows for the corporation.

However, the issue troubling many broadcasters is how they can find their own version of Robinson, now known for her catchphrase: "You are the weakest link, goodbye."

Colin Jarvis, BBC Worldwide's director of programming and operations, said: "Foreign broadcasters are mesmerised by Anne.

"They are amazed at how tough and forthright she is, and that people queue up to take part in the show, particularly the final walk of shame.

"They've never seen anything like it in a gameshow before," he added.

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See also:

03 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Millionaire contestant wins 500,000
16 Oct 00 | Entertainment
News move sparks ratings battle
04 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Meldrew leads BBC ratings charge
15 Oct 00 | UK
Have I got moves for you?
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