ITV aims to arrest viewing decline with drama-heavy autumn line-up

ITV claims that its new autumn schedule, unveiled yesterday, will reverse the decline in its share of viewing for the year to date.

Daytime will be given a “fresh and aspirational” on-air look, new entertainment shows and a drama serial for the 5-6pm slot.

One-off dramas under the theme “Trapped”, featuring Martin Clunes, Caroline Quentin and Richard Briers, will boost Saturday night’s new line-up of The X- Factor, Parkinson and Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

Drama series being introduced at peak viewing times include Doc Martin, about a GP played by Martin Clunes, and Firefight, featuring a group of Teeside firemen.

Other new dramas include Frances Tuesday, about a woman (Tamzin Outhwaite) on the run from her gangster lover; She’s Gone, following a father (Ray Winstone) searching for his missing daughter; Quite Ugly One Morning, about a journalist (James Nesbitt) who stumbles across a murder; and Tom Brown’s Schooldays, starring Stephen Fry.

Rosemary and Thyme, which was the highest rating new drama last year, will also return, along with Foyle’s War and Taggart.

ITV’s share of impacts – a viewing calculation for ads – has fallen across most of its key trading audiences so far this year.

But at a presentation for TV buyers on Tuesday, ITV director of programme strategy David Bergg said the channel was “optimistic” about boosting its performance. “We have the best programming to come,” he said.

New event programming will include a strand of Great British Tests – quizzes covering subjects from spelling to pop; reality show Press Ganged; and An Audience with the Osbournes. I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here will also return for a new series.

ITV Sports will also be repackaged and late-interactive game shows will be introduced.

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