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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 October, 2003, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
ITV boss warns of programme axe
Hugh Laurie
Fortysomething, starring Hugh Laurie, was rescheduled
ITV's head of programmes has warned that he is prepared to "bite the bullet" and drop poorly-performing shows and ageing stars.

Nigel Pickard, speaking at the Bafta Annual Lecture, said there would be "casualties" in the "sometimes painful process" of scheduling.

He has already shifted high-profile programmes such as Judgement Day and Fortysomething out of prime-time slots.

Mr Pickard, former head of BBC children's programmes, said the 48-year-old main ITV channel was facing a "mid-life crisis".

Wrinkles are showing
Nigel Pickard

He said: "ITV is at the peak of its powers but it faces all the doubts and challenges that come with maturity.

"Wrinkles are showing."

He also warned that many of the channel's "banker" stars and shows were "getting on a bit".

Mr Pickard said there was a need to reinvent them and "bring on the next generation".

His comments follow the decision to agree a merger between companies Carlton and Granada to create a virtually-unified single ITV company.

"Gone are the days when you can tuck something into a little corner of peak against Panorama and hope it grows an audience," said Mr Pickard.

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