New genre unveiled to TV bosses: the silent movie

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The Independent Online

The latest cutting-edge television format designed as entertainment for all the family was revealed yesterday as the silent movie.

With traditional variety under threat, Anthony Davis, a 26-year-old entertainer, is pinning hopes on silent films inspired by the legendary slapstick comedian Harold Lloyd as the future of family viewing. A 20-minute pilot was screened to representatives of all Britain's leading television stations yesterday.

Mr Davis, with his producer Richard Lucas, has plans for a further five episodes of a romantic comedy told without speech but with conventional silent-movie captions and music. It is the first silent movie specially made for television.

Mr Davis, a former child actor in Grange Hill, said: "I think television is now so heavily reality television, so violent, there's no wholesomeness left. The whole family used to watch television together and that isn't happening any more. Variety has just disappeared."

The series, called Kiss of Life, stars Mr Davis as Hal, a character closely modelled on Harold Lloyd, who made more than 500 silent movies. Hal bumps into the most beautiful woman in the world ­ and then spends the rest of the story trying to find her again, with only her shopping list for clues.

Although traditional in many ways, the story has taken the vogue for "reality television" into account. As Hal is pursuing the woman through real streets, he is filmed with a long-lens camera which also captures the real-life reactions of passers-by. But what is very strange is that the venture ignores the talents by which Mr Davis has been making his living in recent years ­ voice-overs and impressions.

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