Good news for viewers who want the bare facts

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The Independent Online

It is an "and finally" moment that Sir Trevor McDonald, Britain's favourite newscaster, will be hard-pressed to match.

It is an "and finally" moment that Sir Trevor McDonald, Britain's favourite newscaster, will be hard-pressed to match.

As she concludes her bulletin, the newsreader, Samantha Page, will divest herself of her last item of clothing, completing a strip that will begin shortly after she reads the opening headline.

The phenomenon of Naked News is about to arrive in Britain, although the communications watchdog Ofcom warned yesterday that it must not breach regulations to protect public taste and decency. The programme is to run opposite Sir Trevor's late-evening bulletin on ITV from 16 August.

Nude newsreaders first appeared on American television five years ago and the idea has spread to Canada and more recently to Australia.

In British television terms, the concept of a naked current affairs show seems to follow in the tacky and wacky tradition that began when Kelvin McKenzie introduced such delights as The Weather in Norwegian and Topless Darts to the recently revived satellite and cable channel Live TV.

Get Lucky TV, the satellite television channel behind the British venture into Naked News, protested yesterday that it was providing a genuine news service. "To reassure cynics, content is subject to rigorous editorial control," it said. Newsreaders are expected to deliver stories deadpan, but without clothes.

Ms Page, the first British naked newsreader, is said to have a degree in psychology and zoology and to be a black belt in shotokan karate.

Initially she will be reading international and north American news but Gamecast Interactive, which owns Get Lucky TV, said that if the service was successful it hoped to recruit its own newsroom of British journalists.

Pat Bird, head of marketing at Gamecast Interactive, said that viewers would "never want to watch news being read by suits again". He said: "This is an interesting way of looking at the news and it's already a phenomenon in America. I can imagine that we will make it totally British and we will have a team of journalists over here."

Mr Bird said the weather service that accompanied the news would be filmed in London and presented au naturel by British presenters. The channel's "news and infotainment segment" includes other features such as Sports Buff and Naked at the Movies.

Mr Bird said that the concept came from an internet site that encouraged stock market traders to follow changing share prices by using a nude woman presenter. David Warga, who launched Naked News Canada in 1999, said that the service was unlikely to be controversial in Britain. "We've never had any complaints or moralising from the public," he said. "Besides, those who find the combination of news and nudity unpalatable can always switch off." Ms Page has plans not just to challenge Sir Trevor's position but to write screenplays. She said: "The truth is that the more you respect yourself, the more beautiful you become both inside and out."

THE RIVALS

SIR TREVOR MCDONALD

Born: San Fernando, Trinidad. Age: 64

Education: Schools in Trinidad. Chancellor of South Bank University, London, and has honorary degrees from seven universities.

Journalistic experience: Has reported on current affairs for 44 years.

Awards: Has been named Newscaster of the Year three times.

SAMANTHA PAGE

Born: Cornwall

Age: Not prepared to disclose

Education: Degree in Psychology and Zoology.

Journalistic experience: None to speak of.

Awards: Black belt in karate.

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