ITV drops celebrity scheduling

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The Independent Online

The broadcaster has signed big-name actors including Robert Carlyle, Ray Winstone and Rik Mayall as ITV1 hopes to wipe away the memory of a string of failed experiments in recent months from Celebrity Wrestling - dropped from the Saturday night schedule after poor ratings - to Celebrity Love Island, which was critically panned, although it eventually attracted viewers.

This autumn is particularly important to the network, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in September - an event that will be marked with a season of nostalgic programming.

But ITV's director of programmes, Nigel Pickard, insisted the new ITV line-up was not a "knee-jerk reaction", pointing out that he commissioned many of the dramas 18 months ago.

Mr Pickard said: "This year, we've experienced the inevitable ups and downs of trying new things. I'll always defend our need to experiment but that doesn't mean we lose sight of ITV's core strengths - big-name drama and must-see events."

Having been burnt by an over-reliance on celebrity, ITV is reviving its "Real Life" strand, with documentaries whose titles could have been plucked from a supermarket magazine, from My Husband's Gay to Britain's Youngest Boozers.