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The Independent Culture
If you are a new franchise-holder making your debut network comedy programme, you could do a lot worse than ask Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais to write it for you. FULL STRETCH (9pm ITV), made for Meridian, the new South and South-East franchise-holder, may not match up to some of their Greatest Hits (The Likely Lads, Porridge), and a cab office is not the most original setting (Taxi, Rides, Carry on Cabby), but this six-part series gives the viewer a pleasant enough ride. In the first episode, we are introduced to Baz (Kevin McNally), a former Chelsea footballer from the era of Peter Osgood and 'Chopper' Harris who now runs the Ivory Tower limo service. The office, run by a wheelchair-bound Sue Johnston, is festooned with pictures of Bruce Forsyth and the Chippendales, and his motley crew of drivers includes a resting actor called Tarquin (Reece Dinsdale) and a female athlete training for the Atlanta Olympics (Rowena King). Tonight, Tarquin has the opportunity to say 'I had that David Bowie in the back of my cab.'

On the back of Casualty and Jimmy's, any medical programme seems guaranteed a high level of interest. For OPERATION HOSPITAL (8.30pm C4), producers David Mills and Michael Walsh spent a year in King's College, a teaching hospital in south London, observing the institution as it underwent a rigorous efficiency drive. The new Chief Executive, Derek Smith, was shocked by the dilapidated state of the hospital he inherited. Will he be able to turn things around?

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