herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

RTE set to put Rebellion down as viewers turn off

Padraig Pearse reads the Proclamation in Rebellion
Padraig Pearse reads the Proclamation in Rebellion
Rebellion star Charlie Murphy couldn’t stop the series from sliding in the ratings

The future of RTE's Rebellion is now in serious doubt following a dismal end to the Easter Rising drama.

The five-part programme - a multi-million-euro production by the State broadcaster to commemorate the 1916 Rising - came to a close on Sunday night with a further drop in viewers.

Its finale, which featured the execution of rebel leader James Connolly while he was strapped to a chair, took in an average of 463,300 viewers and a 33pc audience share.

This was the series' lowest viewership, down considerably on its first episode, which saw an average of 619,000 viewers tune in.

Kiss

Those who did tune in were left less than impressed with the ending, which included a bizarre kiss between the characters played by Sarah Greene and Ruth Bradley.

Show writer Colin Teevan previously said that he had started to write scripts for a second series, with the first series set to be broadcast in America close to Easter.

However, Teevan said that the series would not go any further if the first one "tanked" and sources said it was "unlikely" that a further series would be commissioned.

A meeting is due to be held in relation to the show, but morale is now low regarding a further series.

RTE confirmed that a second series had yet to be given the go-ahead, but said the show's future was not just based on the viewing figures.

"A second series hasn't been green-lit yet and any decision about a second series will be based on a variety of factors," a spokesman told the Herald.

Rebellion - which starred Love/Hate actress Charlie Murphy and Brendan Gleeson's son Brian - started off strongly, with an average viewership of 619,000 for the first episode in the series.

However, viewing figures have slumped in recent weeks. The fourth episode pulled in 487,000 viewers - down 159,800 from the second episode, which reached the highest viewership of 646,800.

Some viewers also took to Twitter to express their annoyance at a promotional ad for RTE's coverage of the upcoming Six Nations rugby that appeared on screen for some of Sunday night's episode, including the execution of rebel leader Connolly.

An RTE spokesperson told the Herald that the on-air graphic was planned but, as a result of a technical fault, the ad "featured more prominently on-screen than planned".

The broadcaster removed the ad before the end of the episode.

Fictional

Rebellion depicted the events of Easter 1916 as seen through the eyes of a group of friends - all fictional.

Murphy played the role of rich doctor-in-training Elizabeth Butler, who ditched her fiance to fight in the rebellion alongside Gleeson's character, Jimmy Mahon.

RTE managing director Glen Killane last week said that he was "unconcerned" by Rebellion's drop in ratings.

"It was an attempt by RTE to get back into that space of period drama which we haven't done since Strumpet City, so it was a big step for us.

"Is it going to please everyone? No, of course not but it's achieved what we wanted."

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