If you’ve been keeping an eye out for an increase in the number of beach shorts and Hawaiian shirts around Albert Square since Britain’s recent re-styling as a sun-kissed paradise, you’re somewhat misguided. After all, the soaps are filmed yonks in advance, silly.
You’re not alone though. Because despite the current heat wave, which saw viewing figures for the Baftas and The Voice wilting like thirsty geraniums over the weekend, it seems soap aficionados just aren’t willing to miss their favourite shows whatever the weather.
Last night’s instalments of EastEnders, Emmerdale and Corrie all pulled in very respectable audiences in the face of competition from barbeques, sun-loungers and the chance to wear shades in public without being called pretentious.
Compared to last Monday (a not so sunny day) EastEnders lost just 2.5% of its viewers, and both Corrie and Emmerdale weren’t far behind in holding their fans’ attention.
Indeed, 7.4m (35%) people looked in on the citizens of Walford, 5.8m (33%) settled in for the Dingles’ latest adventures in Emmerdale, and over 7m hunkered down for last night’s couple of dispatches from Weatherfield (for the sake of pedantry and/or accuracy: 7.5m (39%) for the first episode and 7.1m (32%) for the second).
Admittedly, there were ever so slight fluctuations in the fortunes of each show, Corrie having attracted 7.9m (38%) and 7.7m (33%), EastEnders 7.2m (32%) and Emmerdale 6.2m (33%) for last week’s episodes, but things stayed rosier for the soaps than for almost all other programmes in the schedule.
For instance, yesterday’s edition of The One Show shed 20% of its viewers from last Monday’s audience of 4m, despite featuring Alex Jones and Matt Baker broadcasting from outside a branch of Crush. The Gadget Show World Tour lost 12.5% of its already rather small group of viewers, drawing just 0.7m last night compared with 0.8m a week ago.
And sadly, the conclusion to ITV’s sublime 56 Up was seen by 400,000 fewer people than episode two, down to 3.8m viewers from last week’s 4.2m, representing a 10% decline.
It’s tempting to lament the show’s waning audience, and maybe pontificate on what it suggests about the importance of loyalty to the British public, but that’d be a bit hypocritical. After all, I didn’t see it. I was outside, you see. In my beach shorts.