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Published on May 10th, 2005 | by Christian Cawley

ITV Axe Celebrity Wrestling!

Both the Guardian and UK tabloid/comic the Daily Star (p.11) cover the inevitable axing by ITV bosses of their low-brow, non-list “celeb” starring, Gladiator-style, ham-fest known as “Celebrity Wrestling”. How on earth the show ever got beyond the approval panel is one of those unanswered questions, although apparently Live TV turned the concept down twice back in the late 1990s. The move naturally confirms ITVs fear of Doctor Who:

ITV1′s Saturday night line-up performed badly for the third consecutive week as Celebrity Wrestling slumped to its lowest audience yet.

Despite the show generating acres of publicity, its ratings fell to a new low of 2.6 million viewers in the key early evening slot.

The antics of former Big Brother contestant Kate Lawler and TV presenter Jeff Brazier only managed to achieve a paltry 14% audience share and the knock-on effect plunged ITV1′s peak time share below 20%.

Celebrity Wrestling has suffered from the huge popularity of BBC1′s Doctor Who, which attracted 7.5 million – four out of ten – viewers from 7pm

Although ITV1 managed to improve on last Saturday night, when none of its five main evening shows had more than an 18% share, only the last 45 minutes of Ultimate Force made any sort of impact on BBC1.

A previously unseen episode from the last series of Ross Kemp’s action drama drew 3.9 million viewers and a 20% share, just beating the start of Match of the Day on BBC1.

The above demonstrates how the BBC Saturday night line-up is retaining viewers across the board, which has pretty much been the case since Doctor Who started; however it should also be noted that viewing figures for ITV have been down by around 10% for the whole year, further evidence – should any be needed – that viewers will watch quality television over cheap, lowest-common-denominator broadcasts, should they be given the choice. More of this report can be read here.

19.30 Update:

Doctor Who Online have reported that “Celebrity Wrestling” is to be replaced with broadcasts of the orginal Star Wars Trilogy (no doubt the Special Edition versions). This isn’t quite the response anyone shuold be happy with. Firstly, they’ve been on tv countless times. Secondly, ITV should be investing in their own sci-fi/fantasy drama. Don’t expect Star Wars movies to make much of a dent in Doctor Who’s ratings, even with the final prequel released this month…

End of Update

In the Guardian, Rupert Smith enjoyed the weekends instalment The Long Game, appreciating the satire of journalism contained within the adventure:

Anything that satirises the profession of journalism is all right with me, but this did it with style.

Style of course is one key advantage Doctor Who has over its competitors, something the show hasn’t really had overall since the mid 1970s.

Finally, The Independent reports that Doctor Who went under the censors’ splicer before the broadcast of Aliens of London/World War Three. Apparently a newspaper referring to the phrase “sexing up” was omitted from the final edit of the episode so close to the general election…

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About the Author

A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




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