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Wednesday, November 11, 1998 Published at 16:09 GMT


The kiss of life for ITV drama?

The cast of ER: ITV is hoping to recreate its success with St Saviours

ITV is looking for a home-grown George Clooney to breathe some life into its ratings - as part of a new hospital drama.

Programme makers are preparing a new series looking at the day-to-day work of a Manchester hospital and the private lives of the staff.

Producers want the multi-million pound drama - which has a working title of St Saviours - to be a major weapon in the commercial channel's battle for viewers.

The formula has already worked for BBC One - Casualty is a central part of the channel's Saturday night schedule.

But a spokeswoman for programme-makers Granada said it would be wrong to compare the show with Casualty.

'Younger and sexier' than Casualty

[ image: Casualty: BBC One's Saturday night stalwart]
Casualty: BBC One's Saturday night stalwart
"It's younger, sexier, faster and more modern," she said, adding a closer comparison would be with ER.

Though it prides itself on its realism, ER - which helped make a star of George Clooney - concentrates more on the personal lives of the hospital staff.

Current star Anthony Edwards is reported to earn £185,000 per show.

Granada is hoping to emulate ER's success by attracting a raft of up-and-coming stars.

They include Ioan Grufford - of ITV's period drama Hornblower - and Tom Jones star Max Beesley.

"It's very much centred on young doctors, and will be looking at their personal lives. The emphasis will be on the lives and loves of the doctors," she added.

The series will be produced by Francis Hopkinson, who worked on BBC Two's police drama The Cops - which is also set in Manchester.

The Cops has been criticised for adopting a docu-drama style, blurring the boundaries between fact and fiction.

But the spokeswoman said St Saviours would be filmed like a conventional drama.

The show is expected to reach screens towards the end of 1999.

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