Midland to sponsor ITV dramas

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Midland Bank has paid pounds 2m to sponsor drama output on ITV for the coming year, it was announced yesterday.

Programmes such as Sharpe, Prime Suspect, Morse and new films such as Jane Austen's Emma and Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders will begin with an introductory Midland sequence.

There are existing sponsorship arrangements on the commercial channels. Among the biggest deals, Coca-Cola sponsors ITV films and Coronation Street has backing from Cadbury Schweppes.

But ITV yesterday called the Midland deal "the most ambitious and complex . . . to date".

It was the first to involve the corporate sponsorship of a group of different programmes across the ITV network, it said.

Midland's chief executive, Keith Whitson, said the company was "delighted" to be associated with "the very best of British TV drama".

He said: "Since the programmes are likely to be watched by some 90 per cent of the population, we will be reaching into every community we serve in the country.

"With the banking and financial services market becoming increasingly competitive, it is critical that Midland looks to develop innovative new opportunities."