St Trinian's swaps hockey sticks for girl power

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The Independent Online
The girls of St Trinian's are poised to stage a return to Britain's screens in a spiced-up television version of the classic Ealing comedies.

Granada Television announced yesterday that it is hopeful of winning a pounds 2.5m commission from ITV to bring the nation's naughtiest schoolgirls back to the small screen next year.

The Manchester-based broadcaster revealed that it is hoping to persuade the all-woman pop group the Spice Girls to perform the theme tune and might even make a bid to get Eddie Izzard to play the cross-dressing headmistress. But it stressed that the series has still to be cast.

Andy Harries, Granada's controller of entertainment and comedy, said: "St Trinian's were the original purveyors of girl power, so it would be wonderful if we could involved the biggest phenomenon in Britpop in their revival."

He stressed that the series would be "saucy but not smutty", so that it could be transmitted in a pre-watershed peak time slot.

St Trinian's was turned into Britain's most famous girls school by a series of feature films made between 1953 and 1965, but Granada has acquired the rights to the original comic book cartoons by Ronald Searle and says it will draw its inspiration from these.

The announcement was made at the Golden Rose of Montreux Festival on the banks of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, where Britain's leading television comedy and entertainment figures converge each year to compete for awards and drum up advance publicity for their forthcoming productions.

The BBC announced here over the weekend that it has lured two of ITV's biggest acts away from the commercial sector. Hale and Pace plus Lily Savage have been signed up by the Corporation. Poaching the latter - a drag act by Paul O'Grady - is a major coup since Lily Savage is seen as one of the biggest rising stars in this area of programming.

Hale and Pace, a mainstay of ITV's comedy output for the last decade, are planning to clean up their act when they quit LWT in order to occupy a peak time slot on the BBC.

Announcing the signing, Paul Jackson, the Corporation's head of entertainment, said: "They came to us and said they wanted to take their place at the centre of the nation's entertainment with a quite different kind of show."

The defection of both these acts from ITV is a double setback for Britain's biggest commercial station only a week after it was urged by its watchdog body, the ITC, to add more variety to its peak time schedules, which have been dominated by long-running popular drama series. Granada is hoping to generate some more positive publicity for the network with a further major announcement this morning in Montreux. It declined to disclose details last night.

Channel 4 has also been making some waves on Lake Geneva over the weekend by announcing that it has struck a deal with broadcaster Chris Evans' Ginger Productions to make a series about golf entitled Tee-Time, which will seek to cash in on the current craze for the sport, triggered by Tiger Woods' recent stunning triumph at the US Masters.

A golfing fanatic himself, Evans will produce the series, which has a pounds 1m budget. But it has not yet been established how much the maverick presenter will himself feature on screen.