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SOLD DOWN THE RIVER; FURIOUS FANS IN PROTEST AS REVAMPED SOAP FREEZES OUT THEIR FAVOURITE CHARACTERS Viewers say changes ruin show EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: By Paul English TV Editor

FANS of River City are threatening to boycott the new-look show.

The BBC Scotland soap's official message board was flooded with complaints after the first hour-long episode was aired on Tuesday night.

It was the first transmission of the format which has seen the show changed from a two episode soap to a 60-minute drama.

A raft of characters have been gradually introduced to the soap in recent months, with the Murdoch clan - headed by long-time River City actor Frank Gallagher - expanding and becoming a central focus.

River City stalwarts including fans' favourite Joyce Falconer, who plays Roisin McIntyre, have either disappeared or been sidelined.

And there was no sign of long running character Shellsuit Bob in Tuesday's episode, although he remains contracted to the soap.

Minutes after the episode, disappointed fans let rip on the BBC's website.

Quotes on the fans' forum claimed it "looked ridiculous" while others suggested a boycott "would make whoever took it upon themselves to ruin my favourite show wake up and smell the coffee".

The new-look show comes after previous producer SandraMacIver moved to forthcoming BBC Scotland drama Hope Springs.

A BBC spokesman defended the show, saying: "We very much welcome feedback from our viewers. We will certainly take these comments on board.

"We recognise that any change in a programme takes viewers a while to get used to, but are confident fans will enjoy what we have planned.

"We took a decision to change River City's shooting style and lighting, which isn't unusual. East-Enders and Emmerdale have been through similar revamps."

By yesterday afternoon a petition was running on the site.

One irate fan said: "Please sign here to get the old filming style of our favourite soap back because we all hate the new way of doing it.

PS it is still and always will be a soap."

Another added: "I will sign this petition. I can't stand the new look for River City. Please bring the old look back."

CAPTION(S):

OUT: Ex-producer Sandra; OLD AND NEW: The Murdoch clan, left. Top, Roisin and right, Shellsuit Bob
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 10, 2008
Words:352
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