The Conners’ TV audience slumps by 43% minus Roseanne

Spoiler warning: This story reveals plot details about the series premiere of The Conners.

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US TV viewers failed to flock to new Roseanne spin-off The Conners, which has suffered a 43% fall in ratings.

The show – which follows Roseanne being cancelled after she posted an offensive tweet – debuted on US channel ABC with 10.5 million on Tuesday.

Rosanne had returned to TV in March with 18.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen data. The new series stars the show’s other cast members.

The writer and actress has objected to her character being killed off.

Picking up three weeks after Roseanne’s sudden death, the show’s first episode reveals the family matriarch died from an accidental opioid overdose.

In a statement, Barr said this “lent an unnecessary, grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show.”

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John Goodman (centre) with the cast of the new spin-off show

In a statement co-written by her “long-time Rabbi and friend” Shmuley Boteach, Barr said “killing off the Roseanne Conner character” was “a choice the network did not have to make.”

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Roseanne said her tweet had been “a regrettable mistake”

ABC axed Barr’s show in May after she posted a tweet likening Valerie Jarrett – a former aide to President Obama and an African-American – to an ape. She later made a TV apology, saying it was an “ill-worded” tweet, adding: “I’m not a racist.”

This is not the first time a hit TV show has carried on without one of its main stars.

In the 1970s, Farrah Fawcett left Charlie’s Angels after one season to pursue a film career. Years later she revealed she had left the show over disagreements on the direction of her character.

Shelley Long left her role as Cheers’ barmaid Diane in 1987, while the US version of The Office ran for two more years after Steve Carell departed in 2011.

More recently Netflix decided to kill off Kevin Spacey’s character in political drama House of Cards and make its sixth and final season without him.

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