Channel 4 has come out in support of flagship soap Hollyoaks to deny reports it is facing the axe due to falling ratings.
The Sun claims the soap's future is in danger due to the decline in numbers, quoting that viewing figures have gone from a high of 800,000 in January, the most watched episode of 2019 so far, to a June average of 450,000. In 2015 the show averaged over 1 million.
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According to the tabloid's sources the channel is worried about the downward trajectory of audience figures in 2019 and fear they won't recover. "They don't want to see it go," the paper was apparently told, "but need to justify its existence and the numbers won't have to go much lower before that becomes impossible."
It also states Channel 4 bosses are making a 'last-ditch effort' to turn things around with a planned overhaul apparently dubbed internally as 'Project Chester'.
RadioTimes.com has been assured of Channel 4's continued and robust commitment to the show, with an official statement declaring: "Hollyoaks is hugely valued and not under threat and we’re of course very happy and incredibly proud of the well-deserved Best Soap award win.
"It has a huge reach for 16-34 audiences, in fact our share of this demographic on E4 – the first-look episode – is up, which means Hollyoaks is the only UK soap to be up year on year.
"Hollyoaks epitomises our remit for serving young audiences across Channel 4 and E4 and we're incredibly proud it was also recognised as Best Soap at the British Soap Awards earlier this month."
Hollyoaks' nightly E4 showings are regularly the highest-rated programmes on the channel, figures we understand are not included in the tabloid report.
Recent hard-hitting storylines such as Ste Hay's radicalisation into far right extremism, Lily McQueen's self-harm, Sinead Shelby's sexual assault and the football abuse plot have won praise from critics and audiences.
As well as bagging the big prize at the British Soap Awards the show won three additional trophies, including the public-voted Best Actor for Gregory Finnegan (James Nightingale). The show was also named Best Soap at March's Royal Television Society Awards.
Channel 4 also showed their ongoing commitment to its flagship continuing drama with the recent specially-filmed trailer that aired in rival soap Coronation Street's commercial break, one of the most prestigious advertising slots on TV.
Visit our dedicated Hollyoaks page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.