The Wonder of Britain, the ITV series hosted by former Countryfile presenter Julia Bradbury, has been pulled from the schedules after two episodes following poor ratings.
The series, which saw the presenter celebrate “Britain’s natural and man-made heritage”, only just managed to scrape a million and a half viewers in its first week despite airing in a peachy prime-time 9pm slot.
ITV has promised to air the remaining three programmes in the five-part series, which was replaced last night with Paul O’Grady’s Animal Orphans.
An ITV spokeswoman told RadioTimes.com: “ITV have taken the decision to review the scheduling of Wonder of Britain, and we will reschedule the remaining episodes in due course. It is a series we are proud of, and we will reintroduce it to viewers at some point in 2015.”
Episode one of The Wonder of Britain attracted 1.31 million viewers according to overnight figures, with a further 190,000 watching on ITV HD and the same number on ITV+1. The second episode fared little better with 1.49 million watching on the main channel and an extra 510,000 on ITV HD and 130,000 on ITV+1.
Both shows performed badly compared to the main opposition on BBC1: long-running crime drama Silent Witness, which stars Emilia Fox as a forensic pathologist, attracted a consolidated audience of 6.66 million on BBC1 and BBC1 HD, and 6.32 million for the second episode.
According to sources, ITV took the decision to pull The Wonder of Britain with a heavy heart as it was the first project assigned to Bradbury after she moved from the BBC early last year.
Bradbury earned the nickname “the walking man’s crumpet” after presenting many outdoor programmes for the BBC, including Wainwright Walks which was based on the guidebooks by fell-walker Alfred Wainwright. She has also presented Watchdog and joined Countryfile in 2009 when it moved from a morning to a prime-time slot.
The shelving of The Wonder of Britain follows a poor start to the year for ITV on the ratings front.
Between December 29th 2014 and January 4th 2015, its main channel had an overall share of viewing of just 10.1%, a figure which rises to 12.4% if ITV HD and ITV+1 are factored in. This represents a below-par performance for ITV, which recorded a 15.6% overall share of viewing in 2014, down from the 2013 figure of 16.2%.
In 2014, BBC1 recorded a 21.6% share, up marginally on the 2013 figure of 21%.
On Monday, ITV’s detective drama Broadchurch was also narrowly beaten by the first instalment of Silent Witness, which won the 9pm slot with 5.9 million viewers – 200,000 more than ITV’s offering.
An ITV spokeswoman said that the network was reluctant to comment on the ratings figures for individual weeks.