Millions stay switched off for C5 launch

Never in the field of broadcasting have so many telly folk sacrificed so much of their Easter weekend in the expectation that so few of their fellow subjects of this realm will bother to tune into their lavish audiovisual offerings.

The launch of Channel 5 tomorrow evening has prompted Britain's rival broadcasters to serve up a veritable bonanza for viewers consisting of a multi-million pound raft of films, dramas and soaps.

But bosses at the fledgling channel are bracing themselves for only 1.5 million people tuning into some of their first night fare - one-tenth of the average audience for Coronation Street and far fewer viewers than tune into the Antiques Roadshow.

Part of the problem is that at least 40 per cent of British viewers will be technically unable to tune into the country's last free-to-air network. The proportion encountering difficulty could be even higher.

The new station itself is forecasting that at least one million callers will this weekend flood a special helpline which has been set up mainly to advise people about retuning. But it claims to be still confident that it will meet its target of a 5 per cent share of total audience by the end of this year. Channel 5 is, however, hoping to get off to a hot start, with the Spice Girls performing a specially commissioned song - "The Power of 5".

Its schedule begins at 6pm tomorrow with a star-studded curtain-raising drama about the Stephanie Slater kidnap. Other highlights include a spoof medical satire called Hospital!, featuring Emma Thompson and Greg Wise. And the Spice Girls will chat as well as sing on the first edition of The Jack Docherty Show.

The established rival channels will endeavour to eclipse these new kids on the box tomorrow evening by screening films such as Sister Act 2 and Born On the Fourth of July plus hit sitcoms like Birds of A Feather and Cold Feet. But the ratings war will really begin on Easter Monday when the fifth channel presents its first full schedule.

ITV has responded aggressively, scheduling five big feature films including Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Robocop 2.

BBC1's Monday schedule features Lord of the Dance - a made-for-TV version of the former Riverdance star Michael Flatley's new show. Auntie is also offering the film thriller Malice, starring Nicole Kidman, and two episodes of EastEnders at 6.40pm and 8.30pm. Channel 4 will aim to retain its audience share through Neil Simon's comedy film The Goodbye Girl and the Charles Bronson thriller Breakheart Pass.

The battle for viewers will continue to rage throughout next week when ITV screens editions of Emmerdale each evening from Monday to Friday in an attempt to spike the launch of C5's five-days-a-week soap Family Affairs. Yet, despite investing so much in these unseasonal Easter spoilers, ITV and BBC executives are playing down the impact of their new rival, claiming that the main ratings battle will still be fought out between themselves.

But the focus is obviously going to be on Channel 5, whose director of programmes, Dawn Airey, is bracing herself for some adverse critical reaction. Britain's fifth terrestrial tele- vision channel will pull off a unique achievement if its debut does not go down as a fiasco. BBC2, TVAM, Channel 4, and British Satellite Broadcasting all got off to an embarrassing start.

Sport
Premier League Live
footballLIVE Follow all the Premier League action as it happens
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
peopleTV star had been reported missing
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Commercial Property Solicitor - Bristol

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...

DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, Linux, Shell, Bash)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone