TALK OF THE TRADE : Sweeteners for young

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Channel 4 is starting a soap opera in September for girls aged 12 to 16, as part of a long-term commitment to re-establish its children's programmes. It will be screened twice weekly once established, says Lucinda Whiteley, a C4 executive. Three independent production companies have reached the final stage in bidding for the contract. It is not expected to be a junior, gritty version of Brookside, concerning itself with spots and boyfriends rather than patio murders.

C4's plans reflect growing recognition that children and teeny boppers need to be wooed, to build up their loyalty to a channel. In a little- noticed reversal, the BBC's recent programme strategy review, People & Programmes, said that it will seek to provide stimulating and imaginative programmes for children on Radio 1 and Radio 5 Live. The original Radio 5 built up a raft of children's programmes, including the highly entertaining Wiggly Park, most of which were junked when news took over.

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