If there are two things that guarantee big TV ratings, it seems, they’re births and deaths. The return of BBC1’s Call the Midwife on Sunday drew just shy of a seven-figure audience and last night the culmination of Coronation Street’s assisted suicide storyline broke the 10 million barrier.
A peak audience of 10.2 million viewers tuned in to watch the moving scene in which long-serving character Hayley took her life following a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Hayley’s send off spanned two episodes of Corrie, the first at 7:30pm drawing an average audience of well in excess of 8 million viewers on ITV, while the second at 8:30pm was watched by 8.81m, peaking at 10.2m with the addition of HD and +1 viewing for the denouement.
The episodes were well received by viewers, some of whom took to Twitter to congratulate ITV on “powerful, brave & heartbreaking telly” and share their sadness at Hayley’s departure.
Julie Hesmondhalgh, the actress who played Hayley, told Radio Times recently that Coronation Street had played an important part in highlighting the issues around the right to die debate and showed that soaps could go beyond mere entertainment.
“If we can stir people in their living rooms and encourage thought and debate about something affecting real people every day, then I believe it’s a higher purpose for telly that transcends any market forces or need for diversion,” she said.