ITV plans to axe The Marriage Ref and Penn & Teller after falling ratings

Dermot O'Leary

ITV's much awaited Saturday night line up is turning out to be a flop, with shows hosted by huge stars including Jonathon Ross and Dermot O'Leary attracted less than 3 million viewers during primetime. According to The Sun, ITV plan to axe a host of shows in a bid to improve figures.

Shows on the chopping block include Popstar to Operastar, which last weekend achieved just 2.9 million viewers for its fourth episode - down more than half on its launch to more than 6 million people.

US show The Marriage Ref, fronted by X Factor presenter Dermot O'Leary, has failed to translate to a hit here in the UK, with less than 2.5 million tuning in for the latest episode. The show sees a panel of comedians decide on the outcome of a couple's petty argument.

Meanwhile Penn & Teller: Fool Us, hosted by former BBC One star Jonathan Ross, is also set for the chop. The series, which originally started as a one-off earlier this year, is being watched by just over 3 million viewers at 8PM on Saturday nights.

An insider told The Sun: "It's a disaster. If big name stars like Dermot, Myleene and Jonathan can't help get these shows big audiences, then you're stuffed."

A spokesman for ITV insisted: "We're pleased that our new entertainment shows meant ITV1 was the most watched channel in peak time among younger viewers on Saturday night."