Channel 4 offers eclectic mix for new programme season

(First Edition)

CHANNEL 4 will continue its delicate balance this spring between fulfilling its remit for minority programmes and continuing its clear populist swing, writes David Lister.

This is illustrated by a varied season of programmes, announced yesterday. For example, a three-part profile of the fashion designer Jean Muir will be supported by 'original and appropriate educational back-up in the flattering shape of an exclusive Jean Muir dress pattern'.

John Willis, Channel 4's director of programmes, said: 'While other broadcasters might wish to see their director-general in an Armani suit, we are much more democratic. We will show that anyone can have a Jean Muir dress.'

The season continues the channel's tradition of an eclectic international film season, but again it is noticeable that Delicatessen, the film leading off the season, was a popular hit on general release. Other highlights include a sequel series to the Golden Girls, cabaret with Julian Clary and Jools Holland, a new drama by Lynda La Plante, and newly discovered footage of Hitler at a celebration of Nazi art.

In addition, Alan Bennett will narrate a cultural history of Britain between the wars. Sophie Grigson will present two series about vegetables, and People First will continue its investigation into disability issues.

Now that Channel 4, for the first time, is selling its own advertising in competition with ITV, some fear it might be forced to dilute its up-market mixture to increase audiences. But Mr Willis denied any downmarket or populist drift at the channel.

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