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Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 10:31 GMT
C4 boss admits Brookside 'hole'
Brookside
Brookside is likely to be finally scrapped next year
Channel 4 chief executive Mark Thompson has admitted axing Brookside from its peak time slot will leave a big hole in his station's schedules.

The network now has an "urgent need" to find new evening shows which come from outside London, he said.

The 20-year-old Liverpool-based soap, a fixture of the channel since it started in 1982, has been dumped from its weeknight slot because of low ratings.

It now only goes out in its traditional Saturday afternoon "omnibus" slot - and is likely to be axed when its contract ends next year.

Speaking at an industry event in Salford, Greater Manchester, Mr Thompson said he wanted to hear "regional ideas" which could be for drama, entertainment, leisure or lifestyle programming.

Hollyoaks cast
From the north: Hollyoaks is one of Channel 4's leading shows
Other Channel 4 hits from outside London include Hollyoaks - based in Chester and made by the same company as Brookside, Mersey Television - while cutting-edge drama Queer As Folk was based in Manchester.

Mr Thompson told the conference of the "big gap" Brookside would leave.

"It is a gap which isn't about quotas and economics but about emotion and 'feel'," he said.

"The move of Brookside means we've now got quite an urgent need for strong new peak time ideas from the nations and regions.

"Brookside represented 75 hours of peak time origination and we have to match or better that, not with a like-for-like replacement - we're not looking for another pre-watershed soap - but with great new regional ideas, across drama, entertainment, leisure and lifestyle and so on."

'Dull'

While most of the UK TV industry is based in London, Channel 4 must commission a certain amount of programming each year from producers who are based outside the capital.

Brookside creator Phil Redmond - who also created Grange Hill for the BBC in 1978 - has previously attacked the decision to axe Brookside as "daft", and has threatened to move Hollyoaks to another broadcaster.

He told The Guardian that he knew Brookside was doomed in 1998, when he went out to dinner with former Channel 4 boss Michael Jackson.

"We spent 10 minutes trying to get a table that Michael was happy with," he said.

"I thought to myself, 'If they take 10 minutes to find a table rather than discuss what we are going to do with the programme, I'm onto a loser here."

See also:

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