Scheduled to hook viewers

Will ITV's autumn line-up give its ratings a much-needed boost? Meg Carter reports

TV Review: This Life

It is gratifying to see that This Life, BBC2's houseshare drama, has quietly and patiently been building an audience for itself. Nothing sensational you understand - but the steady, ratcheted increments seem to suggest that viewers are getting the point of the series rather better than the critics who gave it such a dusty welcome. This is gratifying because what is best about the drama is what is missing from it: false crescendos, melodrama, the ready narrative satisfactions of a conventional soap - and it isn't always the case that such restraint is rewarded.

Unlikely partners in crime

The pairing of tough old cop and idealistic rookie may not be new, but Reginald Hill makes it seem that way. And now his creations Dalziel and Pascoe are back on the box. By Robert Hanks

A blockbuster sequel for fabled film factory

Elstree Studios, birthplace of some of the best-known films in cinema history, is to make blockbuster movies again after an 11th-hour settlement to a bitter eight-year wrangle.

Move to right TV crime's wrongs

Home Office guidance is to be sent to producers of television crime dramas to make sure they are "factually accurate", in a campaign ordered by the Prime Minister to "increase publicity for successful police operations".

No holds barred in battle for late-night viewers

Watch out for television with attitude, with shows featuring 'Readers' Husbands' (in jockstraps) and 'Toilet Talk'. Michael Leapman reports

Brother Cadfael's creator dies aged 82

THE bestselling writer Ellis Peters, who created the Brother Cadfael medieval mystery novels, died yesterday aged 82 after suffering a stroke.

How to make a flop

`Crown Prosecutor' should have been the BBC's big new hit. But it's a turkey. What went wrong? Sue Summers reports

REVIEW : There's nowt a stint down a hole won't cure

Like the last episode of Casualty, the first of the new series of Peak Practice (ITV) found itself down a hole.

Clash of legality and morality

`Realistic' legal dramas have proved very popular. As the BBC prepares to launch a new series, Robert Verkaik looks at how true to life they are

Teatime with Auntie

BBC1 is a hit with pensioners and housewives, but has lost the gift to grab mass audiences, says William Phillips

TELEVISION REVIEW / An arresting lesson in dramatic finesse

THE MOST familiar writers' gripe at the moment is that if you're going to arrest the attention of a commissioning editor you have to call in a policeman to do it. Like all gripes, it's an exaggeration, but this is a bad week to try and refute it, a week which has offered three police dramas in as many days. The gripe also assumes, as a given, that genre fiction puts handcuffs on the imagination of the writer. With Wycliffe, Wexford and A Touch of Frost fresh in the mind you wouldn't hastily deny that, but again, it's a bad week for the theory. As Jimmy McGovern proved with Cracker (ITV), and J C Wilsher with Between the Lines (BBC 1), it isn't the genre that matters so much as what you do with it. Now both series are back on our screens again.

RIGHT OF REPLY / Are you listening, Dennis?: Whatever cynics say, television is giving a home to as many aspiring writers as ever, argues George Faber, the BBC's head of single drama

Ever since Dennis Potter's valedictory interview with Melvyn Bragg, when he declared the original TV drama defunct and savaged the market-led, formula-driven series that had taken its place, a chorus of voices has echoed his views: young writers lack the springboard to gain experience and confidence; directors have no room to innovate; TV executives only want to play safe; the TV play is dying - an unwatched, anachronistic hangover from the long-lamented Golden Age of The Wednesday Play.

Bowler for sale

(First Edition)

TELEVISION / A Proplus a day keeps cleanliness at bay

AS THE headline-grabbing bits in the new Desmond Morris series show, there is now nowhere that documentary cameras won't go. Even Mr Morris, however, might think twice before entering the house inhabited by the six students on The Living Soap (BBC 2). Blood from an unexplained source covered the floor of the fridge (causing a medical student to flee in horror), goldfish were chucked down the lavatory, and the washing-up was adorned with gob.
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