ITV will show fewer repeats during summer: Second run restricted to top dramas

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The Independent Online
ITV WILL be halving the repeats it shows during the spring and summer because viewers don't like them. Marcus Plantin, ITV's Central Network director, said yesterday that there would be only 30 hours of repeats in the spring and summer peak-time schedule, representing 10 per cent of output. This compares with 60 hours last year, and is way below that of the BBC.

The only programmes being accorded second showings are ITV's top drama series, Heartbeat, A Touch of Frost, Taggart and London's Burning. These will be repeated on Saturday evenings in the summer. 'You have to show terrific care in how you use domestic programme repeats,' Mr Plantin said. Only top Hollywood films could pull off the trick of attracting large audiences.

The pounds 152m spent on nationally networked programmes includes a frank two-hour programme called Prince Charles Celebrating his 25th Anniversary of the Investiture as Prince of Wales, made by Jonathan Dimbleby. It contains sensational new footage of the attack by David Kang, who fired a starting pistol at the Prince during his tour of Australia in January.

The programme, to be shown on 29 June, will be preceded by a documentary series called The Windsors, which looks at the Royal Family and its history using rarely viewed historic footage.

The spring and summer seasons include pounds 50m of new drama, much of it aimed at Sunday evenings. It includes Cadfael, four 90-minute programmes about a medieval sleuthing monk played by Sir Derek Jacobi, based on the novels of Ellis Peters, with echoes of The Name of the Rose. There is also Sharpe, starring Sean Bean as a British officer during the Napoleonic wars, and Frank Stubbs, the wide-boy promoter, will be back.

ITV, as with the BBC, is also hooked on celebrating anniversaries: Apollo, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of Neil Armstrong's moonwalk, D-Day, The Shortest Day and Woodstock - 25 years on.

ITV, which produced 27 of the 30 most popular TV dramas last year, is planning to react aggressively to any new BBC hits, Mr Plantin says. He wants to kill off any promising new BBC dramas by counter- scheduling with appealing products such as films.

ITV is also trying to woo the young audience and has devised Scavengers, a cross between Gladiators and The Crystal Maze, presented by John Leslie, formerly of Blue Peter. And Chris Evans, star of Channel 4's Big Breakfast, is presenting the ITV movie awards in June, for which viewers will phone in their votes.