EastEnders records worst ratings in soaps history as Euro 2020 sees shake-up

EastEnders: Ben says he won't protect Jags in prison

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Channels have had to reshuffle their soap schedules during the Euro 2020 matches, with episodes of EastEnders airing later and on different days, and all being available in advance on BBC iPlayer. It’s been reported that the ratings from Friday are the lowest in EastEnders’ 36-year history.

ITV has also launched future episodes on ITV Hub in order to keep up with the schedule amid the shakeup caused by Euro 2020.

But on Friday there was no Euro game on. ITV’s Emmerdale pulled in a higher figure of 3.32 million.

The drop in views across the board is likely down to the fact that fans have watched ahead on the broadcasters’ sites, meaning they had already seen the episode.

EastEnders remains one of the top performing programmes on iPlayer.

The soap has been a staple of British television since it began, and in its most successful period could see around 20 million viewers tuning in to episodes daily.

It hit its highest ever ratings in 1986, in an episode which saw Den Watts (played by Leslie Grantham) presenting Angie Watts (Anita Dobson) with divorce papers.

The instalment saw 30.15 million watch the dramatic moment on Christmas Day.

The move to allow episodes to be viewed in advance during Euro 2020 was a historic one.

Usually when sporting events disrupt the regular TV schedule, soaps are either cancelled or moved to a different time or day.

But at the moment, each Monday at 6am sees the full weeks’ episodes available on the BBC viewing platform, with ITV Hub doing the same thing.

A similar drop in views occurred in June 2019, when a similar figure of only 2.4 million watched due to the soap airing at 7pm because of the BBC’s coverage of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Once the UEFA Championships are over, the show will return to premiering its episodes on-screen before they will be made available online.

This week’s episodes also saw a huge storyline unfold as it was revealed that Jags Panesar (Amar Adatia) was murdered in prison.

The character left the series in October 2020, just a year after joining the cast, and has since faced a tough time in prison off-screen.

In a recent shocking episode, he was killed off after being attacked in his cell.

Jags’ mother Suki Panesar (Balvinder Sopal) broke the news to her children, saying: “The prison Chaplin called me 10 minutes ago, Your brother was attacked in his cell. He’s dead. Jagvir is dead.”

Official spoilers reveal that Vinny Panesar (Shiv Jalota) will take the news particularly badly.

Talking about Vinny’s reaction to his brother’s death, Shiv said: “It’s guilt and it’s numbness.

“When I was reading it I thought ‘wow, Vinny has blood on his hands here’. They’re all thinking it as a family but this is on him, this is his fault.”

EastEnders continues on Monday at 7pm on BBC One.

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