TVNZ is axing an hour of popular soap Coronation Street from next week.

Saturday screenings of the long-running drama will be dropped from September 1 - and replaced by Come Dine With Me, a series about British strangers competing for the title of ultimate dinner party host.

In its publicity material, TVNZ generously describes the replacement show as "hilariously cringeworthy".

TVNZ's decision means soap addicts can now only get their fix of Coro St from hour-long screenings on Thursday and Friday nights at 7.30.


The axing means New Zealand will again rapidly fall behind the contemporary series. Even with the addition of Saturday screenings, New Zealand was about 19 months behind UK transmission dates.

The much hyped 50th anniversary episodes of the show from December 2010 - in which three regulars were killed off after a fiery tram crash - played here just last month.

The serial previously aired on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm until October 2011, when the show moved to a 5.30pm half-hour slot every weekday.

The move was highly unpopular with fans. About 33,000 viewers stopped watching and furious supporters bombarded the website with complaints. Even Prime Minister John Key waded into the debate about the pre-teatime slot in a radio interview.

The show was moved into its present prime-time slot within three weeks.

News the Saturday episodes were being scrapped went down like a pint of flat Newton and Ridley in the Rovers Return with fans around the country.

Jade Lippiatt, from Christchurch, fumed: "We need more of Coronation Street so we can catch up, not less. I wish TVNZ would stop messing around with the schedules. I'm really not happy about this."

Christine Marbeck from Tauranga admitted she was addicted to the TV soap.


"If they move it from Saturday it will mess with my internal clock," she said. "To replace it with the awful Come Dine With Me is a joke. That show is cheap TV at its very worst."

Tessa Beswick, also from Tauranga, said her husband Graham was also hooked on Coronation Street and said Saturday nights wouldn't be the same without it.

"Coronation Street might be just a soap opera but it is almost Shakespearean compared to the likes of Come Dine With Me."

TVNZ said extra episodes of Coronation Street would be aired when appropriate.