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Thursday, 21 March, 2002, 13:52 GMT
Game over for Jim Davidson
Jim Davidson
Jim Davidson and co-host Lea Kristensen
Jim Davidson is to leave BBC One's The Generation Game after fronting the Saturday night show for seven series.

The Generation Game, which ends its current run in April, will finish with an hour long special celebrating the comedian's favourite moments from his time as host.

We need to think carefully about what's next for the Generation Game

Lorraine Heggessey, Controller BBC One
Jim Davidson said: "I've had a fantastic time on The Generation Game but after seven years I feel that now is the right time for some new challenges."

The family game show, which started in 1971, has maintained audiences of five to six million in recent years but the current series has dipped to between three and four million viewers.

Davidson's time as Generation Game host has been longer than that of Larry Grayson - and longer than either of Bruce Forsyth's stints at the show.

Cuddly toy

Originally devised by a Dutch housewife, it was the number one game show in the 1970s, and on Christmas Day 1990 achieved an audience of more than 16 million.

It featured four couples from four different families competing in obscure quizzes and challenges, and traditionally ended with a memory game involving a conveyor belt of household goods and, invariably, a cuddly toy.

Larry Grayson
Larry Grayson compered the show in the 1970s
BBC One controller Lorraine Heggessey said: "Jim is a fantastic entertainer who knows how to amuse audiences young and old.

"He has done a terrific job on the Generation Game and will be a hard act to follow, so we need to think carefully about what's next for the Generation Game."

Davidson will return to BBC One in a special to mark the 20th anniversary of the Falklands conflict.

New series

A camera crew will follow his return to the islands to meet the residents and troops stationed there, and to perform his one-man show.

He will also appear in a new series of Big Break and is currently developing a pilot for a BBC One family sitcom with Carla Lane.

Entertainment commissioning controller Jane Lush, said: "While we know the audience will miss him, we can completely understand his desire to do something different.

"We've already started talking about new projects, including a sitcom which we hope to pilot this summer."

A new series of the Generation Game, with new presenters and a redeveloped format, will be back in 2003.

A BBC spokesman said: "This is still a very robust format, and BBC One on Saturday night is still the place for this kind of pan-generational entertainment."

See also:

16 Oct 01 | England
Davidson axes panto musicians
30 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Davidson's charity honour
10 Oct 00 | Entertainment
TV favourites battle it out
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