ITV plots fresh drama after repetitious year

Louise Jury Media Correspondent
Friday 31 January 2003 01:00

The World Cup, the advertising recession and tough competition meant more than one in five programmes shown on ITV last year were repeats, the broadcaster said yesterday.

ITV announced a massive injection in programming this year, with a slate of new drama including an adaptation of the first Kingsley Amis novel, Lucky Jim, and the story of Danielle Cable, whose fiancé was killed by the known criminal Kenneth Noye in the M25 road rage murder in 1996.

ITV said 2002 was a "very challenging year". Particular problems included the high cost of covering the World Cup in Japan and Korea and the BBC's decision to show a fourth episode of EastEnders.

The proportion of repeats, up from 17.3 per cent in 2001 to 21.7 per cent, was less than the broadcaster expected at the beginning of the year. The figure for peak-time television was lower at 11 per cent.

A number of expensive projects, such as a history series on Kings and Queens, were shelved but will be broadcast this year. The budget for 2003 is £830m, up from £750m, which will pay for landmark series including documentaries on Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Harold Wilson.

Other projects includeWall of Silence, a factual drama on a 17-year-old, Jamie Robe, who was beaten to death in public in 1997. No witnesses came forward. James Nesbitt, who starred in ITV's award- winning factual drama Bloody Sunday, plays the boy's father, who tries to bring the killers to justice.

ITV's other major factual drama, Danielle Cable: Eyewitness, is being made with the co-operation of Ms Cable. She has worked with the producers, Granada television, on the story of how she assumed a new identity under witness protection after the murder of her fiancé, Stephen Cameron..

Nick Elliott, ITV's controller of drama, said ITV1 had made a strong start to 2003 with Sons and Lovers, its D H Lawrence adaptation which attracted 8 million viewers and Coronation Street, with its audience-grabbing murder storyline.

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