Brenda leads ITV's bid for summer ratings

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The Independent Online
ITV has created Gayle Tuesday, its own Page Three "stunna", as the centrepiece of a comedy battle with its new rival Channel 5.

Gayle's World, starring the stand-up comedian Brenda Gilhooly (right), will run nightly in a new ITV Comedy Zone created as part of the commercial channel's pounds 170m summer schedule.

Channel 5 already has a nightly programme called the Comedy Store. ITV's Comedy Zone comes from the comedy club Jongleurs in London, Channel 5's comes from The Comedy Store, also in London. The Comedy Zone will run on week nights after News at Ten.

The ITV network director, Marcus Plantin, hinted that he was looking for ways to move News at Ten now that Channel 5 is scheduling movies against the news every night.

Borrowing from other broadcasters is a theme of the schedule. ITV is running a week of themed "paranormal" programmes called Into The Unknown. The themed strand was pioneered by Channel 4 and copied by BBC2. ITV is using Into The Unknown to introduce Millennium, an American sci-fi series from the producer of BBC1's X-Files.

"The objective is to give a range of programmes that have specific appeal to younger viewers. It is nothing to do with Channel 5," said Mr Plantin.

ITV is likely to raise eyebrows with its first broadcast of The Royal Tournament which it won from the BBC. It plans to use the makers of the Gladiators to produce the show and include some of the Gladiators in the programme.

ITV has reduced by one-third the number of repeats in its summer schedule from 90 to 60 hours. It is also banking on big audiences from its Formula One coverage and the climax of the UEFA Champions' League.

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