Editor Reports: Instant Ratings or Instant Axe

In this Editor Reports Doug Lambert takes a look at those shows that didn’t bring in the viewers fast enough for telly executives and were swiftly disposed of.

It’s come as no surprise that the BBC axed its struggling Australian drama, Out of the Blue, after just a few months. The writing was on the wall for the new show when, after just a few episodes, the BBC shunted it over to BBC2 for ratings to tumble even further. But the fate of Out of the Blue isn’t unique and here ATV Today looks at some other soaps that were axed when ratings didn’t take off.

Breakers: 1998 – 1999

We’ll stick with Australian soaps for the moments and take a look at another BBC soap that failed to make an impact. The soap ran between 1998 and 1999 and was set around a Cafe and Modeling Agency, and also a newspaper, and featured mostly a young cast.

The series was different to other Australian soaps because it had something of a gritty nature and tackled storylines others dared not including homosexuality -something Home and Away and Neighbours have only danced around.

Australia is quite a conservative country when it comes to issues such as homosexuality and it was a daring storyline for a new soap to tackle. Unfortunately for the soap ratings were never really high enough and Network Ten decided to scrap the show in November 1999.

Night And Day: 2001 – 2003

An ITV daytime soap that was commissioned to fill the void left by Home And Away after its departure to FIVE. The soap was get in Greenwich, London, and revolved around the residents of Thorton Street and the mysterious disappearance of Jane Harper [Georgina Walker] on her 16th birthday. Parallels were drawn with Twin Peaks, Sunset Beach and an array of other shows that weren’t strictly conventional and Night And Day featured flashbacks, fantasy sequences and quirkly filming techniques.

Despite quite a high profile launch and the high profile cast the show failed to attract big audiences because of its complex nature and after six months ITV shunted it to a Thursday night soap hoping it would take off as an adult soap. It might well have done if the show was constantly put back to later in the night and often wouldn’t air when it was scheduled to.

Because production was far ahead of broadcasting episodes a huge stock pile of episodes was already in reserve but producers knew the writing was on the wall and wrote a finale episode. Production on the show lasted little over a year but the soap itself ran on until 2003 when it’s final episode aired, late at night, to an impressive five hundred thousand viewers.

HeadLand: 2005 – 2006

Back to the Australian soaps and we’re now onto HeadLands; a soap that was originally going to be a Home And Away spin-off set in the nearby city. However, Seven Network changed their minds about linking it into Home And Away and opted instead to make it a standalone show.

Network Seven were so confident that the series would be a hit that after 52 episodes were filmed for its first season production began immediately on its second – before any episodes had aired. The show was sold to Channel 4 in the UK and aired on Channel 4 and its digital channel E4.

The programme started strong in Australia but soon ratings fell and a move into Home And Away’s slot, which was on its summer break, only served to lower ratings further. The soap limped along until it was finally removed from the schedules with episodes of the show remaining presently un-aired.

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