Soaps are still tops for telly addicts

WILL Young may have replaced Terry Wogan in the TV charts, but soaps are keeping us switched on and it is hard work to beat Only Fools and Horses.The Independent Television Commission (ITC) has provided snapshots of the region's viewing habits over the past 12 years as it prepares to hand over responsibility to new industry regulator Ofcom.

WILL Young may have replaced Terry Wogan in the TV charts, but soaps are keeping us switched on and it is hard work to beat Only Fools and Horses.

The Independent Television Commission (ITC) has provided snapshots of the region's viewing habits over the past 12 years as it prepares to hand over responsibility to new industry regulator Ofcom.

It shows East Anglia's telly addicts remain captivated by Coronation Street and excited by EastEnders, while Del Boy and Rodney's adventures remain the biggest draw.

The ITC, which published its final annual report and accounts yesterday , said that choice presented to viewers is far greater than ever.


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The rise of reality TV and popularity of football are also revealed in the charts, which compare the top rated programmes in 1991, when the ITC began its lifespan, and 2002.

In 1991, soap favourite Coronation Street occupied three of the top four places while EastEnders just scraped into the top 10.

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Other popular programmes included drama Darling Buds of May, chat show Wogan and the Best of Blind Date game show.

Last year, Only Fools and Horses stormed to number one with its Christmas special, while EastEnders leapfrogged Coronation Street into second place.

The final of reality TV show Pop Idol, won by Will Young, Jubilee celebrations and England's World Cup game against Denmark also proved big turn-ons.

Paul Monteith, head of the ITC for the Midlands and East, said viewing figures for the top-rated shows had slipped since 1991.

"The key thing is there is now much more consumer choice. Channel 4 has come on strong and we've seen the emergence of Channel 5.

"There has also been huge advances in cable and satellite television, so there is massive choice for TV viewers. It's a much more diverse picture.

"Coronation Street got 19.5m viewers back in 1991. The only time it might ever get near that now is for really big storylines, like the Richard Hillman murders."

The number of homes receiving satellite in 1991, when forces were fighting the first Gulf War, was 5%, compared to 30% now. More homes now have more than one TV set, the ITC's report added.

The most popular regional programmes in 1991 included Farming Diary, Go Fishing, Soccer Special, Wideangle and The Village Show.

By last year, top-rated local TV included The Way We Were, Eastern Promises, Riddles of the Road, Cover Story and Crime Night.

Nationally, the most complained about programme since 1991 was The Last Temptation of Christ, a Martin Scorcese film which attracted 1,554 complaints in 1995, ahead of Channel 4's Brasseye, which got 992 complaints in 2001.

The recent Wrigleys Xciteadvert – which showed a dog leaping out of a man's mouth – proved the most controversial advert in the past 12 years, provoking 862 complaints.

The ITC, which ceases to exist at the end of the year, received 4,054 complaints about programmes and 7,830 about advertising in 2002.

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