ITV today unveiled a new look schedule for its flagship channel, ITV1, with increased focus on week day peak time hours and a revitalised weekend line up.
The main revisions to the ITV1 Winter 2008 schedule include:
• The return of News at Ten
• More 60 minute dramas at 21.00
• More comedy, drama and entertainment Friday to Sunday
• Coronation Street and Emmerdale move from Sunday evenings
• Dancing On Ice moves to Sunday night
• More investment in acquired programming post 22.30
It has been confirmed today that News At Ten will return to ITV1 from Monday 14th January. As well as returning an iconic and much loved ITV brand to the heart of peak, this move allows ITV to invest further in original, hour long drama at 9pm. This 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.
As part of wider changes to a revamped weekend line up designed to be distinct from the week day schedule, there will be a later evening news bulletin Friday to Sunday to allow comedy, entertainment, drama and feature films to be played uninterrupted.
Weekends on ITV1 will be given a noticeably different look and feel with a renewed focus on new comedy, entertainment and drama. The reinvigorated Friday to Sunday schedule allows greater freedom and a broader programme mix, with hit entertainment shows like Dancing On Ice moving into Sunday night and remodelled Friday nights featuring more comedy and entertainment, starting with the new series of Al Murray’s Happy Hour at 10pm from Friday 11 January.
Saturday nights retain their place as the centrepiece of ITV’s weekend entertainment line up, with brand new prime time quiz show Duel launching this month. January also sees the return of family drama to Saturday evenings with the second series of Primeval and fresh new comedy as Paul Merton makes a welcome return to ITV1 in improvisation show Thank God You’re Here.
As entertainment moves into Sunday evenings from mid-January, Coronation Street moves from Sunday nights to a second episode at on 8.30pm on Fridays and Emmerdale also moves from Sunday night, meaning a reduction in the number of nights ITV soaps are broadcast without reducing the number of episodes. Drama still plays an important part in the Sunday night line up, however, with the return of last year’s highest rating new drama, Kingdom and a new series of Wild At Heart this month.
The move of the news also opens up a window for more factual programming, films and acquired programming on ITV1 at 10.30pm.
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.
ITV Director of Television, Simon Shaps said: “One of the principal ideas behind these changes 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.
“The restructuring of the peak time schedule and the return of News at Ten means that we’ve got a great opportunity to recapture some lost ground at 9pm and we’ve responded to viewer feedback on Coronation Street and Emmerdale so that fans can catch up with their favourite soaps over fewer nights.
“The new shape allows greater freedom and flexibility to create new hits within the schedule. In all, these changes make for a more streamlined, user friendly schedule that plays to ITV1’s strengths as an entertainment powerhouse and the home of original drama.”