ITV brings back Baywatch to counter Channel 5 threat

ITV is bringing back Baywatch, five months after it was ditched, in a desperate effort to restore Saturday night ratings.

The beach-based drama famous for flimsy story lines and swimsuits is resuming its peaktime Saturday night slot.

The move comes as its replacement, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, achieved viewing figures of only 4.9 million, less than the BBC’s Dad’s Army. Baywatch’s viewing figures had also dropped from a high of 10 million to about 6 million before it was axed.

ITV is understood to have taken the decision to bring it back because of the failure of Sabrina’s failure to make an impact on figures.

Baywatch had been on ITV for six years. ITV has re-signed a sponsorship deal with Wella Shock Waves, the shows previous sponsor, for the return series. Wella also sponsors Channel 4’s Friends re peats on Tuesday night with Wella Experience.

ITV executives were keen to bring back the series because of the fears that Channel 5 will eat into ITV’s Saturday night figures.

Wella’s marketing group manager Heather Cooper says Shock Waves’ sponsorship of Baywatch helped the brand go from third place in its market to number one in the space of a year.

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