To anyone who stuck with this section to the end, I say cheers! And thanks also to the
following publications, each of which was instrumental in researching the site in general,
and these two pages in particular:

British Television - An Illustrated Guide (Tise Vahimagi, Oxford University Press
1994)
Box of Delights: The Golden Years of Television (Hilary Kingsley & Geoff Tibballs,
Papermac 1990)
The Complete Professionals (Dave Rogers, Queen Anne Press 1986)
40 Years of British Television (Jane Harbord & Jeff Wright, Boxtree 1995 2nd edition)
Television's Greatest Hits (Paul Gambaccini & Rod Taylor, BBC Books 1993)
Cult TV: The...Detectives (John E Lewis & Penny Stempel, Pavilion Books Limited
1999)
Box Office Hits (Phil Swern, Guinness Publishing 1995)
"The Ratings & Rivals of Eddie Shoestring"
Part 2
PART 1 OF THIS ARTICLE
HOME
ITV continued their assault the following autumn, when Eddie was usually up against
the 4th run of popular action series The Professionals! (a programme which shared
many writers & directors - and guest stars - with Shoestring).

Here we have, for your delectation, another table, this time outlining the BBC1/ITV
scheduling conflict that greeted UK viewers on Sunday evenings in the autumn of
1980
It is evident that both Eddie Shoestring and Bodie & Doyle suffered from this
competition (for Shoestring, 18.3m average in '79 down to 11.9m in '80 based on BBC
figures), but which of the two programmes won the battle?

This is not terribly easy to discover. 'The Guinness Book of Classic British TV'
(Cornell, Day, Topping 1993) says in its marvellous Shoestring entry: "[W]hen ITV
pulled forward
The Professionals into direct competition, Shoestring won the ratings
war"
(p.271).

However, when I asked BBC Information about this last year, Archives researcher Neil
Somerville told me: "I have had a look at the audience barometers for the second
series of
Shoestring and on the occasions when The Professionals was being
shown on ITV,
The Professionals did get the greater audience and sometimes by
several million".

Certainly I'd prefer to think that Eddie won, but I don't believe this to be the case. From
10 episodes he made only 1 appearance in the weekly Top 20 ratings that year, for
"THE DANGEROUS GAME" (in 20th place, 12.85m). Bodie & Doyle on the other hand
peaked at 3rd with 17.6m for "HIJACK" on 30 November (admittedly a week when
Shoestring was off air). I'm not too concerned with this outcome, however -
Shoestring still performed well, and as I said both programmes were firing under what
they otherwise would have been.

To sum up, I think that neither of the 2 series' ratings are a true representation of
Shoestring's popularity. It had little competition to start off, and very tough competition
at the end. Had it continued for some years, then we would have seen a clearer pattern,
but I think it's safe to assume that its regular audience would have been somewhere
between the 2 averages, perhaps around the 15/16 million mark - which is of course
wonderful.

Some final evidence of the programme's popularity - the repeats' ratings! Episodes 3 -
11 of Shoestring's premier series were repeated Wednesday nights at 9.25pm in the
summer of 1981 (1 July to 2 September). 4 of these 9 eps featured in the Top 20.
Figures for the first three episodes shown were as follows: 12.20m for "HIGHER
GROUND" (1 July), 10.65 for "AN UNCERTAIN CIRCLE" (8 July) and 10.85 for "NINE
TENTHS OF THE LAW" (15 July). Very good, but better still...

All of S2 was reshown, 1 January - 25 March 1982 on Thursdays at 9.25pm, when it is
evident that many of those who had missed out 15 months earlier thanks to the
scheduling finally caught up. 7 of the 10 episodes made the Top Twenty. Check out this
final table, which indicates that ratings for the run were pretty much on a par with their
original broadcast! I do not have figures for the first 3 episodes:
Other TV shows which began or were shown for the first time in '79 include: Minder,
Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected, Only When I Laugh, Blankety Blank (with
Terry Wogan), Antique's Roadshow (with Arthur Negus), Give Us A Clue (with
Michael Aspel), the 2nd series of Fawlty Towers, Worzel Gummidge, To The
Manor Born
(the same night as Shoestring, and shown immediately before it on
BBC1), Sapphire & Steel, Shelley, Not the Nine O'Clock News, the John Mills
Quatermass serial and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
HOME
PART 1 OF THIS ARTICLE
SHOESTRING

"ROOM WITH A VIEW"
"THE TEDDY BEARS' NIGHTMARE"
"MOCKING BIRD"
"THE MAYFLY DANCE"
"THE FARMER HAD A WIFE"
"UTMOST GOOD FAITH"
"LOOKING FOR MR WRIGHT"

"ANOTHER MAN'S CASTLE"
"WHERE WAS I?"
"THE DANGEROUS GAME"

TX DATE

05/10/80
12/10/80
19/10/80
26/10/80
02/11/80
09/11/80
16/11/80

07/12/80
14/12/80
21/12/80
BBC ratings for
SHOESTRING
12.50m
12.00m
12.30m
10.20m
12.20m
12.00m
13.00m

11.00m
9.40m
14.80m

THE PROFESSIONALS
(unless stated otherwise)
"NEED TO KNOW"
"TAKEAWAY"
"BLACKOUT"
"BLOOD SPORTS"
"SLUSH FUND"
"THE GUN"
Movie: THE HINDENBURG (1975) starring
GEORGE C SCOTT
"MIXED DOUBLES"
"WEEKEND IN THE COUNTRY"
Variety: NIGHT OF 100 STARS, hosted
by Terry Wogan (& ITN News)

Episode Title

"THE MAYFLY DANCE"
"THE FARMER HAD A WIFE"
"UTMOST GOOD FAITH"
"LOOKING FOR MR WRIGHT"
"ANOTHER MAN'S CASTLE"
"WHERE WAS I?"
"THE DANGEROUS GAME"

Tx Date

28/01/82
04/02/82
11/02/82
25/02/82
04/03/82
11/03/82
25/03/82

BARB Ratings

12.30m
12.35m
12.35m
12.85m
12.75m
11.85m
11.60m
Finally, since nothing exists in a vacuum, I thought I'd list a few facts relating to the
television/film milieu in which Shoestring was shown
Radio Times cost 13p, TV Times 15p (you probably bought both until 1991), and a
colour tv licence was 34.
And programmes around at the time of Shoestring's two year run which regularly
featured in the ratings include perennials Coronation Street and Crossroads, The
Professionals
obviously, Larry Grayson's Generation Game, Mastermind,
Angels, Citizen Smith, George & Mildred, Secret Army and 3-2-1 plus imports like
Dallas (including the 'Who Shot J.R.?' phenomenon in 1980), The Rockford Files,
Wonder Woman, Hart to Hart and Starsky and Hutch. Oh, and the incumbents of
the TARDIS in Doctor Who were Tom Baker & Lalla Ward.
Cinema box office hits in the UK during Shoestring's first run between 30 September
and 16 December 1979 include Alien, Moonraker, Monty Python's Life of Brian,
Mad Max and Manhattan. And for Series 2, 5 October to 21 December 1980,
Dressed to Kill, The Shining, The Elephant Man, Being There and, er, Caligula.
Annual attendances were around the 100+ million mark at this time, about two-thirds
what they are now (2001 saw 156m).