More than one million tune in to harrowing Corrie exit
Published 22/01/2014 | 02:30
TV3 has admitted that the loss of 'Coronation Street' will create a "massive challenge" after the show attracted 719,000 viewers to the station on Monday night.
The emotional episode, which saw Hayley Cropper leave the cobbled street after 17 years, drew the station's biggest audience in two years.
TV3 is set to lose the rights to the soap in 2015 when it will be aired exclusively by newcomer UTV Ireland, which revealed that 350,000 viewers watched Monday's emotional episode on UTV.
UTV told the Irish Independent that its access to 'Coronation Street' was a major factor in its decision to start an Irish station.
"It's one of the main reasons we are launching UTV Ireland. Without the rights to Corrie and 'Emmerdale' we wouldn't even consider it," UTV managing director Michael Wilson said.
When UTV announced its intention to enter the market, TV3 bosses said that they would rise to the challenge. Last night a representative said that they were "ready to take it on" and try to match its soap offering.
TV3 is already looking for a potential series to replace 'Coronation Street' and has asked both UK and Irish companies to pitch ideas for an Irish-made soap that will air twice a week and have 100 episodes a year.
The broadcaster has received 16 ideas in total and has now shortlisted the submissions to its top six favourites.
Meanwhile, calls to Samaritans' helplines surged by 30pc as a result of the 'Coronation Street' right-to-die plotline. Samaritans reported a significant upsurge in calls to their 24-hour helplines in both Ireland and Britain.
Majella Canty, a spokesperson for Samaritans in Ireland, was critical of the TV producers' decision to broadcast the method of suicide by Julie Hesmondhalgh's much-loved character.
But she praised 'Coronation Street' chiefs for the way they tackled a "very tough subject", adding that the storyline will encourage the public to talk about suicide "honestly and openly".
She said: "I think 'Coronation Street' producers worked really hard to get it right."
Samaritans can be contacted on 1850 609090.