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Last Updated: Monday, 6 October, 2003, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
Protest grows over EastEnders axe
EastEnders
The show has performed badly on BBC America
Thousands of EastEnders fans in the US have mounted a campaign to bring back the soap after it was axed by BBC America because of "abysmal" ratings.

Nearly 9,000 have signed a petition calling on network controllers to rethink the decision.

BBC America, a subscription cable channel, said the show was losing the network most of its viewers.

It is being replaced with At Home with the Braithwaites, Monarch of the Glen and Cash in the Attic.

The announcement was made last week as one of the most dramatic storylines - the return of Dirty Den - was about to get under way in the UK.

Because shows aired in the US are a few weeks behind, the last episode shown in America was the return of newlywed Phil Mitchell's former partner Lisa.

'Violations'

Some viewers have threatened to cancel their subscriptions unless the show is returned.

Others are going to extravagant lengths to continue watching their favourite programme.

Barbara Windsor as Peggy Mitchell
EastEnders is among the UK's most-watched programmes
One viewer on the website forums recommended buying a 10ft satellite dish costing $2,900 (1,700) to pick the soap directly from the UK. Her idea was enthusiastically received by others.

The issue has prompted a wealth of angry comments. BBC America website closed its EastEnders discussion board because of what it called "violations" among users.

In an earlier web chat, programmer David Bernath defended the decision.

Mr Bernath, vice-president of programming for BBC America, said EastEnders had "underperformed in the ratings".

"Over the course of the last year, despite being scheduled in the prime Saturday afternoon (slot), the size of the audience has been abysmal," he said.

Do they really think people would rather watch repeats of Ground Force or Changing Rooms?
Petition signatory
He said the show had been aired at various times over five years but its audience had remained "very small".

Award-winning

But one angry fan wrote on the petition website: "I can't believe BBC America is cancelling this great programme. Do they really think people would rather watch repeats of Ground Force or Changing Rooms?"

Another wrote: "You know how much the Brits in Britain love it and all the awards it receives. Why would people in the States not feel the same way? They do!"

Some viewers have suggested there may be a flaw in the way the ratings are calculated.

Samples are taken from thousands of US homes equipped with monitors tracking which programmes are viewed.

But Mr Bernath said the system was the tried-and-tested industry standard.




SEE ALSO:
EastEnders switched off in US
29 Sep 03  |  Entertainment
Sixteen million watch Den's return
30 Sep 03  |  Entertainment
EastEnders cleans up at TV awards
08 Sep 03  |  Entertainment


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