Ratings decline reflects deepening crisis at BBC 1: Share of weekly audience reaches lowest level since 1985
Figures from BARB (the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board) show that the main BBC channel won only 28.9 per cent of the total television audience for the week ending 27 June, its lowest weekly share since 1985.
One reason is that it was the first week of the Wimbledon fortnight, which always increases audiences for BBC 2. Yet even in the week before Wimbledon, BBC 1 attracted only 30.7 per cent of viewers. ITV's rival Channel 3 scored 41.4 per cent that week and 39 per cent in the first Wimbledon week, which saw BBC 2's share increase from 9.5 per cent to 15.1 per cent.
Although the BBC discourages making a link between poor ratings and Mr Moir's transfer to a non-programme role, it is known that Alan Yentob, who has been running BBC 1 since the beginning of the year, believes that the schedule he inherited has a fusty, old-fashioned look. This is especially so in Light Entertainment, which has scored only one palpable ratings hit in recent months - Noel Edmonds's Noel's House Party.
Will Wyatt, managing director of BBC Television, said yesterday: 'Our comedy is the best I can remember.' But many of the BBC's critical successes - Absolutely Fabulous, Alas Smith and Jones, Have I Got News for You? - play to audiences of up to 5 million on BBC 2, although the latter reached 7.5 million, counting the repeat.
ITV, by contrast, manages to get significant audiences for its best light entertainment shows. Yesterday's figures for the week ended 27 June put four such shows in the overall top 20 - Wheel of Fortune (10.3 million), Through the Keyhole (9.84 million), Surprise Surprise (9.77 million) and Stars in Their Eyes (9.02 million). When the BBC tries its hand at so-called 'people' formats - Old Flames, Caught in the Act and Bobby Davro: Public Enemy No. 1 - it usually fails.
Mr Wyatt said: 'We do want to have popular entertainment shows in the early evening. But BBC 1 will not be a success if it gains 5 or 6 per cent in the share but does it with a lot of high prize game shows.'
Critics inside and outside the BBC believe that the failure in light entertainment is a direct result of the new 'Birtian' philosophy, which downgrades entertainment at the expense of news and current affairs.
If the BBC wants to regain a mass audience for comedy and entertainment it will need to appoint someone who knows the business. This is why Alan Boyd, now with Grundy, which produces Neighbours, is the most interesting of those being mentioned to succeed Mr Moir. He was head of light entertainment at London Weekend and would be a good populist foil to Mr Yentob, whose background is in music and the arts.
Mr Yentob cannot be blamed for the collapse of BBC 1's ratings because he is still showing programmes he inherited. The only other time BBC 1's share fell below 29 per cent was in 1985, when Michael Grade had been Controller for about as long as Mr Yentob has now. A year later Mr Grade's channel was neck and neck with ITV.
Have shock jocks gone too far?
Former Google exec says he has 100,000 emails showing how 'immoral' company avoids paying UK tax
Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
British man confesses to slitting two children's throats in Lyon flat
'Swivel-gate': David Cameron goes to war with the press over 'swivel-eyed loons' slur
- 1 Asteroid nine times the size of the QE2 liner to sail pass Earth
- 2 Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
- 3 British business: We need to stay in the EU - or risk losing up to £92bn a year
- 4 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: This is a senior appointment with huge potent...
£28000 - £31500 per annum + benefits: Randstad Education Newcastle: Permanent ...
£50000 - £58000 per annum + Benefits and Bonus: Progressive Recruitment: SAP F...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + BENS: Progressive Recruitment: Drupal Developer A ...