New name, new station ... same old stories

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Channel Five is so proud of its corporate buzz words, "modern mainstream", that it has actually taken out a trademark on them. You can see the protective initials in the glossy preview brochure which accompanied the launch of its schedule, as if the phrase is a sort of secret formula for the creation of a television station and mere repetition of it might transform a mixed bag of foreign soaps, buy-in drama and cheap-and-cheerful home-grown product into "a force for change in popular contemporary culture".

What exactly does it have in mind, one wonders - the arrival of Hercules and Xena, an American treat for "fans of hare-brained action-adventure"? Or Exclusive!, a half-hour of celebrity gossip which will run every night at seven as part of the "stripped and stranded" schedule? This sounds like a particularly horrible stag night prank but actually refers to the American practice of not frightening the audience with any sudden movements.

If you like soaps, for example, C5 will give you Family Affairs at 6.30 every week night. If you like leisure and lifestyle programmes then a rotating array of programmes will turn up at 8.30 every night. This isn't quite as innovative as C5 would like to make out - BBC2 and Channel 4 have both experimented with similar tactics. But C5 takes them further, a fact that makes its schedules look much more like those of a cable channel than of a fifth terrestrial network.

Imitation or resurrection seems to be the order of the day - the drama includes an Australian version of London's Burning , an Aaron Spelling Baywatch clone and a down-under hybrid of Cracker and Silent Witness. What is missing is any sign of genuine innovation. My hopes rose a little on spotting The Bed, a launch-night special which follows the occupants of a single intensive-care bed over a four month period. But if you can't wait to see this, you don't have to - Channel 4 broadcasts a very similar programme, with an identical title, next Monday.

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