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Tuesday, 20 March, 2001, 10:46 GMT
Live & Kicking gets boot
Live & Kicking's new line-up
Live & Kicking's new line-up could not stop the slide
BBC children's programme Live & Kicking is to be dropped in the autumn after eight years on TV, the corporation has announced.


We are now looking to the future and a fresh look for Saturday mornings

Nigel Pickard, Head of BBC Children's TV
The decision comes after the show - once the most popular on Saturday mornings - failed to stop viewers switching to rival ITV show CD-UK and SMTV.

It also comes despite a major relaunch last year with a sleek new line-up of four presenters, including former Blue Peter favourite Katy Hill.

A BBC spokeswoman said a "brand new" replacement for Live & Kicking was being planned.

Ant and Dec
The competition: Ant and Dec on SM:TV Live
But she said full details of the presenters and content were yet to be confirmed.

At the height of its popularity, Live & Kicking regularly drew 2.5 million viewers.

But competition from its ITV rival, hosted by popular duo Ant and Dec, has proved too great.

Head of BBC Children's TV Nigel Pickard said that ending Live & Kicking had been a "difficult" decision.

"Everyone on the show has worked extremely hard and the series has had a successful run in the last eight years," Pickard said.

"But it has not performed as well as it once did. We are now looking to the future and a fresh look for Saturday mornings."

Popular era

Live & Kicking's most popular period was in 1996 when hosted by Zoe Ball and Jamie Theakston.

Zoe Ball
Zoe Ball hosted the show in its heyday

They inherited the show from its original presenters Andi Peters and Emma Forbes, who drew average ratings of 2.3 million.

Viewing figures dropped to 1.6 million in the 1999 to 2000 run of the show.

Its then hosts Emma Ledden and Steve Wilson left, making way for Hill and co-presenters Sarah Cawood, Ortis Deley and Trey Farley.

But the show has taken a battering in the ratings from Ant and Dec, who have regularly drawn audiences of 2.5 million.

The former stars of BBC children's drama series Byker Grove have graduated through the ranks of entertainment TV.

After Byker Grove they hosted their Bafta-winning children's show Ant and Dec on BBC One.

After leaving to pursue a pop career, they went to Channel 4. They returned to the BBC in 1998 to host their first primetime Saturday evening show Friends Like These.

But the same year, they also launched SM:TV which, with the help of co-host Cat Deeley, has proved unbeatable.

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See also:

20 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Saturday morning's wake-up call
17 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Blue Peter's Katy quits
04 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Live & Kicking duo depart
08 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Live & Kicking gets new look
07 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Ant and Dec leave BBC
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