EastEnders ‘same night repeat’ dropped from UKTV channel W.
“The contractual period for airing EastEnders on W has come to an end and we currently have no plans to transmit future episodes. W continues to evolve as a channel, with a focus on brand new UKTV Originals. Upcoming shows include Flack, the channel’s first ever scripted drama series, Emma Willis: Delivering Babies and Inside The Vets.” – Steve North, UKTV, quoted in Broadcast
Following the closure of BBC Three as a stand-alone channel, the EastEnders repeat was picked up by UKTV for its premium entertainment channel W in January 2016. The broadcasts began in February of the same year as part of a revamp of the station, which had previously been called Watch. The switch to the commercial network for the beeb soap’s late night rescreening also saw W re-introduce the EastEnders weekend omnibus which had been dropped from BBC One due to declining ratings.
EastEnders’ omnibus was a regular part of the BBC schedules for decades from February 1985 until it was dropped in April 2015. The two-hour repeat of the previous week’s episodes had in recent years been moved around BBC One, and sometimes shunted to BBC Two. Originally screened on Sunday afternoons it ended up in a late night slot. W has recently moved their screening from 10pm to 11pm and shredded most of the repeat audience in the process.
UKTV have not blamed poor ratings on the decision to end their EastEnders output, instead noting that the channel is to focus on ‘original programming’ which has proved successful for W and other channels in the UKTV portfolio such as Gold, Drama and Really.
Broadcast report that a contract wasn’t terminated, instead the two-year deal to show the 10pm or 11pm ‘same night repeat’ of EastEnders was not renewed. The deal expired earlier this month the report adds. EastEnders airs on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays on BBC One at 7.30pm or 8pm. The ‘same night repeat’ was introduced by BBC Choice, later rebranded BBC Three, along with a number of EastEnders spin-off ventures including a regular behind-the-scenes documentary series and ‘best of’ countdowns such as love triangles, duff-duffs and weddings.
It is however currently another former BBC Three production which has filled the Albert Square void on the channel with sitcom Gavin & Stacey rerunning. The commercial arm of the BBC is currently looking for a new home for the EastEnders repeat, however, it is unlikely it would end up on any of the more well-known channels such as ITV2 or Sky One, especially as ratings for the rescreen was dramatically lower on W than it had been on BBC Three.
UKTV has previously repeated EastEnders in full from its very first episode on its Gold channel in the days when it aired classic soap opera as well as comedy.