Turning off Richard & Judy

The once-mighty names of teatime TV now face shrinking ratings on a minor digital channel. Paul Bignell reports

They have spent the best part of two decades as Britain's most unlikely TV power couple. Now it seems the fortunes – and ratings – of the husband-and-wife team are dropping fast, despite once having A-list guests queue to appear with them and a lucrative book club that could make or break an author.

Since the couple's move last month from Channel 4 to the cable channel Watch, viewing figures for Richard and Judy's New Position have slumped disastrously, even by cable channel standards. The prime-time show attracted just 20,000 viewers for one recent broadcast, plummeting from 149,000 for the much-heralded first show at the beginning of October. The average is just 47,000 compared with 2.5 million in their Channel 4 heyday.

Matthew Littleford, controller of UKTV (owners of Watch), was bullish yesterday, claiming the show was in its early stages and viewing figures would soon rise. "It takes time for a show to bed in, and we are very confident that ratings will rise as awareness about the show grows," he said.

A spokesman for Richard and Judy told the IoS this weekend that the show will move to a new 6pm-7pm time slot in the New Year in an attempt to boost viewing figures. "The 8pm time slot had the programme competing against soap operas and big dramas in the schedules," he said.

Industry insiders believe the move to a cable channel is part of a winding-down process for the couple. Last year they announced their retirement after parting company with Channel 4, with Richard planning to work as a solo TV personality while Judy would spend time writing books.

Their spokesman said that the new show gave them more flexibility to pursue other interests as not all of the shows would be recorded live. "As far as them winding down, we would say absolutely not," he added.

Mark Borkowski, a publicist and PR expert, said: "Personality brands occasionally have to be rested and try to create some nostalgia for that person to come back. Some of the best television formats have been those brave enough to cut personalities off in their prime, rather than suffer the 'slings and arrows' when they've stretched for too long."

Questions are also being asked within the publishing industry about whether the couple's influential book club – which has generated £60m of sales and is still featured on the new show – can sustain its performance when ratings are so low.

The next generation: Switch over, here comes another Madeley...

Chloe Madeley admits her famous parents can make her cringe. "I could not ask for more supportive, loving and understanding parents," she once said. "But I wish they would behave."

How Richard and Judy felt after the nation had seen their daughter stripped down to her stockings for a photoshoot in July is not known. The 21-year-old has since popped up at celebrity parties in outfits with sufficient paparazzi appeal to ensure a regular spot in the gossip columns, where her billing has changed from "club promoter" to "budding TV presenter".

Chloe wants to follow her parents into TV and she has already been on Mum and Dad's cable show.

More viewers are likely when she appears in January on the TV show 'Dancing on Ice'. While Richard and Judy will no doubt muscle in with some supportive cheerleading, the next Madeley to star in a prime-time slot is more likely to be Chloe.

Richard Osley

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: PR Account Manager / AM

£20-30K(DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a PR Account M...

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Account Executive

Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: One of the UK’s largest and most s...

Guru Careers: Marketing and Communications Manager

£Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing and Co...

Guru Careers: Digital Designer / Interactive Designer

£ Highly Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Digital Designer / Interactive Des...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence