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EDITIONS
 Friday, 20 December, 2002, 16:31 GMT
EastEnders scores ratings hit
EastEnders character Martin Fowler
Martin Fowler is still driving despite losing his licence
EastEnders pullled in an audience of nearly 12 million on Thursday night for an episode featuring character Martin Fowler running over Jamie Mitchell.

The accident in Thursday night's programme occured as banned driver Martin - played by James Alexandrou - tried to send a text message on his mobile phone while at the wheel.

It was watched by 11.7 million viewers, which was more than half the audience watching between 1930 and 2000 GMT. ITV1 was showing regional programmes, which collectively attracted 3.8 million.

It was the second time this week that the BBC One soap rated highly among viewers. The Tuesday show drew 12.6 million.

The tense storyline will develop into the traditional Christmas cliffhanger, with Jamie Mitchell, played by Jack Ryder, left in a critical condition.

EastEnders character Jamie Mitchell
Jamie Mitchell's life hangs in the balance

The annual seasonal ratings battle between the BBC and ITV is largely decided by EastEnders and rival Coronation Street.

But though the BBC is enjoying good audiences for EastEnders it could have a fight on its hands.

Coronation Street has been pulling in viewers with a storyline involving a murderer living among the Weatherfield community.

On Wednesday this week, the series also scored a 12 million strong audience as the tension grows.

The killer is Richard, played by Brian Capron, the husband of Gail, played by Helen Worth.

He is known to have killed twice and is set to try again over Christmas, reportedly on Street stalwart Emily Bishop.

Exit drama

The soaps' assault on the audience looks like continuing into 2003.

More potentially gripping storylines are on the way. EastEnders will see the death of Mark Fowler - one of the few remaining original cast members.

Mark, played by Todd Carty, will die of Aids, after having lived with HIV for the past 12 years.

Actress Tracy Shaw
Tracy Shaw will leave Maxine behind in 2003

Meanwhile, Coronation Street will say goodbye to one of its most popular characters, hairdresser Maxine, played by Tracy Shaw.

The drama series has not let on how Maxine's departure will come about.

The largest EastEnders audience of the year is still the 14.8 million who watched Little Mo clobbering nasty hubsband Trevor with an iron on New Year's Day.

See also:

26 Nov 02 | Entertainment
27 Oct 02 | Entertainment
01 Mar 02 | Entertainment
20 Sep 02 | Entertainment
05 Jul 02 | Talking Point
10 Dec 02 | England
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