The Young and the Restless, daytime's top-rated soap, is apparently in need of some new direction. As a result, Soap Central has confirmed that the show has parted ways with its executive producer, Jill Farren Phelps. Phelps's ouster had reportedly been in the works for some time.
That may be the reason the show's new executive producer, famed British producer Mal Young, joined the show's behind-the-scenes team back in January. Young's hiring came with little in the way of publicized fanfare. Known for his work on EastEnders, Young quietly announced his addition to Y&R in a single Twitter post saying, "This year I'm going to be Young and I'm going to be Restless."
Insiders tell Soap Central that the cast and crew of Y&R were told yesterday of the behind-the-scenes changes.
Phelps was named executive producer of The Young and the Restless in July 2012, succeeding Maria Arena Bell at the top of the CBS soap. She joined Y&R after an impressive eleven-year run at ABC's General Hospital.
"We are excited to have such a talented daytime veteran leading our team at Y&R. Jill has a stellar record of success in the daytime genre," Sony Pictures Television's Steve Kent said at the time.
Phelps's tenure at The Young and the Restless was met with mixed reaction from fans. Some expressed immediate concern based on their experiences with Phelps's work at other daytime dramas, while others welcomed a change in direction. The most immediate change saw the show transition from its tried-and-true storytelling format to more event-based plots that Y&R fans had not been accustomed to.
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Under Phelps, Y&R saw some of its best ratings totals in years. In January 2015, The Young and the Restless drew a whopping 5,110,000 viewers according to Nielsen's ratings system. For the week of May 9, 2016, Y&R had 4,758,000 viewers -- a drop of about seven percent from the 2015 high. However, Y&R ended the May Sweeps with its highest ratings since 2009.
In addition to her work at Y&R, Phelps has been the executive producer of five daytime programs -- Another World, General Hospital, Guiding Light, One Life to Live, and Santa Barbara. She also served as EP of General Hospital's primetime SOAPnet spinoff, General Hospital: Night Shift.
As an executive producer, Phelps has been nominated for 20 Daytime Emmy Awards and has won ten times, including Y&R's Outstanding Drama Series win in 2015. Phelps has an additional Emmy win for Outstanding Achievement in Design Excellence.
In a statement, Steve Kent, senior executive vice president, US programming for Sony Pictures Television, said, "On behalf of everyone at the show, we extend our sincere thanks to Jill for her years at Y&R and wish her continued success."
Young, meanwhile, started his career in graphic design. At 27, he started working on the British soap Brookside. Over the next decade, he worked his way up to producer. He helped the show achieve record high ratings, though it came with a fair amount of criticism. Some fans claimed that in order to achieve the ratings, he made the show more "sensationalist." From 1997 to 2004, he took over as Controller of Continuing Drama Series for the BBC. There he oversaw the wildly popular soap EastEnders, as well as a plethora of other drama series. In 2004, he was named Head of Drama for 19Television Limited.
Expectations and enthusiasm are high for Young's new role as show runner. His hiring marks perhaps the highest profile out-of-the-soap-circle hiring since As the World Turns hired Hogan Sheffer as its head writer in June 2000.
Young took to Twitter shortly after this story was posted with the message, "Day One." The tweet garnered numerous retweets and positive feedback, including one post from a Y&R star.
"Congrats Mal," offered Jason Thompson (Billy Abbott). "I excited to go on this journey with you. I trust you buddy! Let's do it!"
Young's first episode as executive producer will air July 14.