Fans fear ITV will 'kill off' Eastenders as Coronation Street and Emmerdale change time slots - in the wake of Danny Dyer's exit from Albert Square
The broadcaster has confirmed both shows will change time slots - putting them in direct competition with EastEnders - as ITV expand their news programme for an hour between 6:30pm and 7:30pm.
Coronation Street will change to three hour-long episodes a week airing at 8pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while Emmerdale will now air at 7:30pm directly following the news.
The announcement left fans reeling, debating whether the BBC soap, which started in 1985, will be axed and comparing the soap to Channel 4's Brookside, which was axed following a decline in viewership in 2003.
ITV announced the news on Monday with schedule changes sent out from both of the soaps official Twitter accounts.
EastEnders has seen its own shake-up of late, with the news that soap icon Danny Dyer, who plays Mick Carter, has quit the soap.
The BBC declined to comment when contacted by MailOnline on whether their schedule may change as a result.
Fans quickly took to social media to react to the shake-up with one writing: 'This gives me anxiety. What if EastEnders is axed - a world without EE. I cant even think about it.
'I think it's a dirty move from ITV trying to kill EE off... I got anxiety, EastEnders is the next Brookside, this is going to kill the show.'
Another wrote: 'Bit of a bummer for #EastEnders this Face with tears of joy. It'll clash with either #Corrie or #Emmerdale constantly. I don't watch any of them live anyway but there's bound to be some people who like to watch all of them live and will now have to choose.'
A third typed: 'I'm not keen on it either really. It's gonna clash with EastEnders which will be a nightmare unless the BBC decide to move #EastEnders to the 19:00pm slot which would be more beneficial.'
Others took a pragmatic approach, saying: 'I don't think ITV is doing it to kill EastEnders. Their Evening News program is a success and they wan't to build off that.
'Plus airing a solid 90 min soap block keeps their soap viewers. Currently since their is a 30 min gap at 8, viewers can leave before the 2nd Corrie episode
Another wrote: 'I don't think it's them trying to kill off EastEnders - more about boosting the ITV schedule and its own soaps. They know BBC will almost certainly just have to move EE.
Speaking about the schedule change, John Whiston, ITV's Managing Director of Continuing Drama said: 'With Coronation Street bursting at the seams with fantastic story and character, the new format gives the show a brilliant new canvas on which to shine.
'And Emmerdale will do what it does best in this new time slot where viewers can continue to enjoy the dramatic goings on in the Dales.'
ITV's Managing Director Kevin Lygo said in a statement: 'As viewing habits rapidly change, live audiences to our national and international news programmes remain remarkably strong.
'Our evening news programme reached an impressive 35.6 million viewers in 2021. We are very excited to be announcing this investment in what is an important public service strength of ITV – high-quality, impartial, trusted broadcast journalism – at a time when it could not be more important.
'The nation's two most popular continuing dramas, Coronation Street and Emmerdale, are fundamental to the success of ITV, and we know that, as with all dramas, viewers increasingly watch them whenever, and however they choose.
'The new scheduling means that viewers can watch them live on TV in one go in a continuous soap fix, as well as on ITV Hub where they are regularly in the most watched shows every month.'