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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 July, 2003, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
ITV reschedules flop drama
Hugh Laurie
Hugh Laurie met comedy partner Stephen Fry at university

ITV is shunting Hugh Laurie's drama Fortysomething from its primetime Sunday schedule to a late-night Saturday slot after a fall in ratings.

The channel is also dumping Brian Conley's Saturday night gameshow, Judgement Day, although it is expected to be rescheduled at a later date.

An ITV spokeswoman told BBC News Online it had to do something to halt the ratings slide.

"These are good shows which unfortunately haven't found their feet in the current slots. It's something all channels have to deal with in this highly competitive environment," said the spokeswoman.

"If programmes are struggling in a particular slot then we have to take action to protect both the show and the schedule overall," she added.

Fortysomething had lost nearly two million viewers by its second episode last weekend.

Laurie plays a GP who is suffering a mid-life crisis in the comedy drama based on Nigel Williams' novel.

The first episode was watched by 6.2 million viewers at the end of June but only 4.3 million viewers tuned in to last Sunday's instalment.

'Popularity contest'

Brian Conley's Saturday night gameshow Judgement Day was billed as "the ultimate popularity contest".

The first show drew 3.3 million viewers on 28 June and 3.1 million last Saturday.

ITV had its joint worst ever Saturday night ratings on 28 June with a peaktime share of 18.1% of the audience between 1800 and 2230.

The network blamed the slump on the BBC's coverage of a Tim Henman tennis match at Wimbledon.

Fortysomething will be shifted from 2100 on Sundays to 2300 on Saturdays in time for the fourth episode, halfway through its six-week run.

The gap left in Sunday's schedule will be filled by the fifth weekly episode of Coronation Street which is moving from its Monday night 2030 slot.

No date was announced for the return of Conley's show.

Despite the station's recent difficulties, seven out of the top 10 dramas from the first half of 2003 were from ITV.

Coronation Street, Heartbeat, A Touch of Frost and The Royal were among those with the highest ratings.

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