Rude Awakenings a $5m ratings flop

By Jonathan Marshall

A Television New Zealand charter-driven drama which cost the taxpayer more than $5 million to produce has ended with "disappointing" ratings.

The final episode of TV One's Rude Awakenings, a satire set in Ponsonby, screened on Friday night. It had received a New Zealand On Air grant of $5,497,382 but rated poorly, compared with other programmes that aired in its 8.30pm timeslot.

TVNZ sources said the viewing figures meant it was unlikely there would be a second series.

According to AGB Nielsen Media Research, the MF Films series attracted an average weekly audience of 215,000 viewers in the 5-plus age category. This compared with the timeslot's average of 311,000 viewers for the previous six months.

British crime show Rosemary and Thyme, which screened in the same slot on TV One last year, pulled an average audience of more than 354,000 for the same demographic, and during one episode it attracted 367,000 viewers.

TV One spokeswoman Melanya Burrows described the data as "disappointing" but said that despite what some commentators had suggested, TVNZ did not give the show the kiss of death by scheduling it on a Friday evening.

"We didn't want to put this fledgling drama up against overwhelming competition - the tried and tested successful international dramas which have huge, broad and very loyal followings," Burrows said. The broadcaster had been "determined" to give the programme "its own opportunity to shine".

The end of week timeslot was chosen because TV One had "an established pattern of popular factual followed by popular broad-appeal drama, in a successful, well-watched evening line-up," Burrows told the Herald on Sunday. "This new satire-drama perfectly fitted the tone and style of the drama slot."

The series, starring former Shortland Street actress Danielle Cormack, told the tale of two families thrust into unwelcome intimacy through a tenant and landlord relationship in neighbouring Ponsonby villas.

Rude Awakenings' producer Michele Fantl did not return Herald on Sunday calls, but a spokeswoman at her Auckland production company said there would be "no comment" on how the series had rated.

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