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Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Drama leads ITV1 autumn line-up
Christopher Eccleston in a modern version of Othello
Eccleston (left) stars in a modern version of Othello
Big-name dramas will lead ITV1's next ratings push after the channel unveiled the shows that will be in its autumn and winter schedule.

David Jason, Albert Finney and Christopher Eccleston are among the actors who will be seen starring in small screen versions of classic stories.

David Jason as the Dickens character Micawber
David Jason stars as the Dickens character Micawber
The schedule will include a new animated version of topical satire Spitting Image, called 2DTV, which features cartoon sketches about the week's news and celebrities.

Two new shows to find musical and acting talent will also be launched after the success of Popstars.

In the dramas, Jason is reunited with Only Fools And Horses writer John Sullivan for a series about the Charles Dickens character, Mr Micawber.

Oscar-winner Finney will star with Royle Family actress Sue Johnston in a comedy drama adaptation of HE Bates's My Uncle Silas.

2DTV
The Beckhams will feature in satirical show 2DTV
And a modern version of Othello will be set in a police department in a city seething with racial tension, with a cast headed by Eccleston.

Julie Walters teams up with another Royle Family star, Ricky Tomlinson, and George Wendt from sitcom Cheers for new contemporary drama My Beautiful Son.

The schedule also offers a raft of new comedy and factual shows.

2DTV is made by the team behind Have I Got News for You, and will feature weekly animated takes on the news, entertainment and celebrities.

Among the cast of caricatures will be Victoria and David Beckham, Prince William and Tony Blair.

Popstars
The channel will hope to recreate Popstars' success
In other comedy shows, Caroline Quentin stars with Robert Bathurst in quirky series Dead and Bathurst will also be seen in a return of Cold Feet.

Steve Coogan is behind The Sketch Show, which will feature some of the best new talent from the British comedy circuit.

Following the success of Popstars' reality TV formula, Pop Idol will search for a solo star, while Soapstars tracks hopefuls trying to get on TV soap Emmerdale.

Lily Savage and Frank Skinner will both return with their own shows, while The South Bank Show will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a special anniversary series.

Balance

Factual programmes will focus on human interest stories, with flagship documentary Real Life telling the story of a 16-year-old anorexic girl and following follows a social services team as they battle to help people in crisis.

David Liddiment, ITV director of channels, says ITV1 is trying to reach a balance between big audiences and new, innovative shows.

Keith Duffy
Duffy: To front ITV2 reality TV show The Race
"This Autumn ITV1 lives up to that challenge with a powerful schedule built on diversity and quality, popular programming," he says.

"Our drama is characterised by individual voices and singular performances with great writing and acting talent."

Digital channel ITV2 signalled its intent to become ITV1's entertainment-led sister channel, announcing extra coverage of Pop Idol and Soapstars.

A new reality TV show, The Race, hosted by ex-Boyzone singer Keith Duffy, will see eight contestants attempt to make it around the globe and will be exclusive to ITV2.

Participants, who could win 50,000, must use their "ingenuity, guile and gift of the gab" to make it around the world with few resources, according to programme-makers.

See also:

14 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
BBC unveils autumn line-up
20 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Vikings lead BBC Two autumn attack
19 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Weakest Link trounces Premiership
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