Sunday, July 10, 2011

Women cut loose: Ailing ITV series sacks Kate Thornton and Zoe Tyler in bid to boost ratings

By Lara Gould

Left to right, Andrea McLean, Denise Welch, Zoe Tyler, Coleen Nolan and Kate Thornton of Loose Women arriving for the 2011 National Television Awards at the O2 Arena, London

ITV daytime show Loose Women has sacked two presenters in an attempt to shore up a dramatic slump in ratings.

Former X Factor host Kate Thornton, who joined the show in 2009 as a co-anchor, and Zoe Tyler, a regular panellist for four years, will not return after the ¬programme’s summer break.

Doubts have also been voiced about the future of comedienne Sarah Millican as a presenter on the programme.

In January, the 60-minute show, which is screened live at 12.30pm every weekday, was drawing in daily audiences of more than two million. But by June figures fell to just 700,000 – less than those tuning in to BBC1 antiques programme Bargain Hunt.

Last night a spokeswoman for Miss Thornton, 38, and Miss Tyler, 41, confirmed the decision but declined to comment further.

A show source said: ‘Contracts were signed on Friday and all the panellists who are returning have been spoken to.’

He added: ‘There will be some changes and it is true that Kate and Zoe will not be coming back in September.’

It is understood both women were told the news earlier in the week. The returning presenters include actresses Lynda Bellingham, 63, Denise Welch, 63, and Lisa Maxwell, 47; former weathergirl Andrea McLean, 41; and the show’s longest-serving presenter, Chris Evans’s former wife Carol McGiffin, 51.

Ms Millican, 36, who joined the show earlier this year, said her future was in doubt because of other professional commitments.

Show executives are expected to make a final decision with her in the next few weeks.

Another long-serving host, Coleen Nolan, singer with Eighties group The Nolans, is also preparing to leave the show, which has been on air since 1999.

The 46-year-old, who joined Loose Women in 2000 and credits the programme for relaunching her showbusiness career, announced in March that she would be stepping down to concentrate on other television projects.

ITV sources said three new presenters were expected to join.

Loose Women won a National Television Award for Most Popular Factual programme in 2010 but critics say the format has become tired and outdated.

Viewers have branded it ‘stale and mechanical’ on online forums, with one posting on website DigitalSpy saying: ‘It’s a tired old show, same old c**p every day.’

It is the second high-profile sacking for Miss Thornton. She was axed as host of The X Factor in 2007 and replaced by its current presenter, Dermot O’Leary.

An ITV spokeswoman said: ‘Kate and Zoe have been fantastic Loose Women. We’ve really enjoyed working with them and look forward to working with them again in the future.’


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