ITV claims victory in soaps war

CORONATION STREET yesterday claimed a victory in the television soap wars with twice as many viewers on Monday night as its BBC rival EastEnders when the two shows clashed for the first time in the schedules.

Unofficial overnight audience figures showed that ITV attracted 15 million viewers on average with its hour-long Coronation Street special, while EastEnders had an audience of 8 million. One television company source said: 'It's down to clever scheduling and a strong storyline.' The figures also represent the highest peak-time audience share on a Monday night this year for ITV.

A total of 52 per cent of the audience tuned into ITV throughout the evening compared with 25 per cent for the BBC. 'These are early unofficial figures but we are delighted they reinforce Coronation Street's position as Britain's number one soap,' Marcus Plantin, ITV network director, said.

Next week, Coronation Street is back to a 7.30pm start, with EastEnders, which the BBC never intended to compete directly with the ITV soap, at 8pm. ITV is showing a Mr Bean special, starring Rowan Atkinson, to run opposite EastEnders.