ITV have announced major changes to their schedule for 2008 including the removal of soaps from their weekend slots, the long awaited return of News at Ten and improvisation show Thank God You�re Here starring Paul Merton.
The broadcaster has designated Saturday nights as the centrepiece of their entertainment line up which includes the brand new quiz show Duel which launches this month.
January also sees the return of family drama to Saturday evenings with the second series of the hit sci-fi series Primeval. Sunday nights will see the return of last year�s successful drama Kingdom and a new series of Wild At Heart.
ITV Director of Television, Simon Shaps said the idea behind the new schedule “is to make the weekends on ITV1 feel special.”
“We have always been the home of Saturday night entertainment and we want to broaden that out to make the whole weekend on ITV1 something to look forward to.� This has meant a wholesale spring clean for Friday nights with new comedy, drama and feature films to get the weekend started, and a much fresher look to Sunday evenings with entertainment shaking up the historically drama-led schedule.”
News at Ten anchor Sir Trevor McDonald said he was “delighted to be back with the news in the 10 o�clock slot.� I�m looking forward to the new programme immensely and to the challenge of returning News at Ten to its place in the nation�s affections.�
The revived strand will air Monday to Thursday with later bulletins airing on Fridays and at weekends under the title The Late News. This weekend change will allow drama and films to run without interruption.
The broadcaster is also promising more one hour dramas in the 9pm slot which has proven a successful for the BBC.
his month sees the launch of a number of new titles in this slot including The Palace, a contemporary drama set in a fictional Buckingham Palace; interlinked comedy and soap Moving Wallpaper and Echo Beach, and Honest, a new six part comedy drama starring Amanda Redman.� �
The new schedule will be supported by extensive off-air marketing activity, with campaigns created by ITV�s newly appointed agency BBH launching this week for Moving Wallpaper/Echo Beach, Honest and Primeval.