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Red or Black? turns viewers off

ITV1's big money game show Red Or Black? was hammered by BBC1 consumer programme Watchdog on Thursday night as it continued to jettison viewers.

The main hour-long programme pulled in an average audience of just 3.9 million - a new low since it launched on Saturday, losing nearly three million viewers.

Even the live final - in which a contestant walked away with a £1 million prize - pulled in just 4.1 million.

The show, created by Simon Cowell, has been hugely expensive to stage with a budget estimated at £15 million.

And it has been mired in controversy after it emerged that the first millionaire it created had been jailed for attacking a woman, thought to be his ex-girlfriend.

Show bosses were criticised for allowing him to keep the cash and then three more contestants were dropped from the show after producers reviewed their background checks.

The series kicked off on ITV1 on Saturday with an average of 6.6 million for its first slot of the evening and then 7.2 million for the later results show.

But on Thursday the main programme lost out to Watchdog which landed a 5.2 million audience. The 9.30pm final of Red Or Black?, despite shedding viewers over the week, did win its time slot though, beating BBC1's Torchwood as well as the final of Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 5.

However Cowell has predicted that his programme - which is fronted by Ant and Dec - will be recommissioned for another series.

An ITV spokesman would not confirm any future plans, but did say: "Red Or Black? has made fantastic start with three contestants winning £1 million and the show launching as the most popular new entertainment programme on UK television this year."

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