Night falls on daytime TV's king and queen

Richard and Judy's 21-year screen career at an end as digital channel show is axed

In their prime, not even on-screen bickering, cringeworthy Ali G impressions or embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions could spoil the allure of Richard and Judy as they pulled in millions of daytime television viewers.

But it seems that a move to the broadcasting backwater of the newly launched digital television channel Watch has finally killed the ratings magic of Britain's most famous marital double act.

Yesterday it was announced that the couple's eponymous chat show has been cancelled after just eight months and will end when the current series finished on 3 July. It will be the first time in 21 years that Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan have not had a slot to fill on Britain's television screens.

The decision was taken after a meeting in central London on Thursday when the couple met the show's producers and executives and decided that due to plummeting ratings – viewing figures fell from a high of 174,000 to just 11,000 at their lowest – the show should cease.

A joint statement released by the couple and Watch said: "Ratings had not been in line with expectations and new audience research has prompted Watch to re-focus its direction towards family-skewed entertainment and away from topical discussion-based output."

Madeley and Finnegan added: "Some you win, some you lose. It's a shame we couldn't get this one to fly because both we and our brilliant young production team were genuinely proud of the show and the guests it attracted. But it became obvious that it wasn't the right fit with a brand new pay TV digital channel. Many of our former viewers have told us they simply couldn't find us there. When we started we said we wanted to get ahead of the curve, as British television inevitably goes digital. Looks like we were a bit too far ahead of the curve. Perhaps a bridge too far too soon, despite UKTV's strong support. But TV is all about taking risks and that means sometimes you fail. It was a really worthwhile experiment and we don't regret it at all."

A source close to the couple said the pair now planned to go on holiday over the summer and work on other projects upon their return. Madeley has said he is keen on taking on solo projects after two decades of working with his wife. Finnegan is said to be keen to concentrate on writing.

The couple became recognised as the faces of ITV's This Morning show which they hosted since its inception in 1988 until 2001. In 2000 they faced ridicule for Madeley's cringe-inducing impression of the character Ali G. The same year Finnegan suffered embarrassment when, at the National Television Awards, her dress popped open and exposed her bra.

They then moved to Channel 4 to host Richard & Judy. At its peak it attracted three million viewers and was responsible for launching the hugely successful Richard & Judy Book Club. Talks with other television stations are already under way with a view to the book club continuing on another channel. They moved to Watch in October last year and were contracted until December before being dropped this week.

Viewing figures

3 million

Peak audience of Richard and Judy on Channel 4

174,000

Highest viewing figures of the couple's programme on Watch

11,000

Lowest viewing figures for Watch show

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy