Barrymore series axed from schedule

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The Independent Online

Michael Barrymore, the television entertainer questioned by the police after the death of a man at his home, was the big casualty of ITV's autumn schedules yesterday.

ITV announced one of the channel's most impressive line-ups for a long time. But, though a series of Barrymore's show Kids Say The Funniest Things has been completed and is ready for transmission, it was excluded from the autumn programmes. The exclusion shows the dilemma ITV is facing over when they can screen Britain's most successful family entertainer, without the programmes appearing against the backdrop of a murder inquiry.

Barrymore, who has been treated for depression since Stuart Lubbock, 31, was found dead in the swimming pool of his home at Roydon, near Harlow, Essex, on 31 March, has not been charged with any offence. Police last week made a two-day search of his home.

Yesterday, David Liddiment, ITV director of channels, saidhe felt screening the programmes would be wrong. He said: "The series can't be broadcast. One has to do what is dignified and appropriate." But Mr Liddiment also made clear that ITV would stick by its star. "We have stood by Michael throughout this process. We think people are innocent until proven guilty. And he has not been charged with anything."

Key programmes in the autumn schedules include an updating of Othello, Andrew Davies' contemporary adaptation of the Shakespeare play, which is set in the Metropolitan Police force with Othello as the police commissioner.

Among the eye-catching offerings is the unlikely prospect of a cartoon based on the lives of the footballer David Beckham and his wife, Victoria, the Spice Girl. Posh and Becks materialise in the comedy series 2DTV, with Victoria as a stick-thin bully who constantly hectors David. The programme will also bring to life Prince William, Geri Halliwell and Tony Blair as cartoons.

David Jason and Only Fools And Horses writer John Sullivan are reunited with the drama Micawber. And the veteran award-winning actor Albert Finney will star in My Uncle Silas, based on the book by H E Bates. The most novel innovation is the launch of Night and Day, a soap opera with two editions, one in daytime and one at night. The evening edition will have stronger language and more explicit scenes.