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Wednesday, March 17, 1999 Published at 17:44 GMT


ITV banks on familiar faces

Roger Moore as James Bond: ITV will show a summer of classic 007 films

Every James Bond film ever made and new series for John Thaw and Robson Green are among the highlights of ITV's new spring and summer season.

The network is confident familiar faces can help hold onto its sudden ratings lead following the scrapping of News At Ten last week.

Unofficial figures showed ITV had a 45% share of the total audience, compared with just below 40% previously.

Director of programmes David Liddiment said: "Our new peak time schedule has got off to a confident start.

"This summer's new programming, which is striking in its richness and diversity, will help us build upon the momentum that first week has given us."

New drama for Thaw

[ image: John Thaw: The Inspector Morse star returns in Plastic Man]
John Thaw: The Inspector Morse star returns in Plastic Man
Drama is at the forefront, led by a new show for one of ITV's biggest names, John Thaw. The Kavanagh QC and Inspector Morse actor plays a plastic surgeon with a difficult private life in Plastic Man alongside Frances Barber and Sorcha Cusack.

Meanwhile, Sorcha's sister Niamh teams up with Martin Shaw in a new hospital drama - Always And Everyone - the ywo play busy doctors.

Robson Green plays the father of a son with a learning disability in romantic comedy Rhinoceros, while former Coronation Street producer Brian Park is behind Bad Girls, a new drama set in a women's prison.

Bond a hit with viewers

[ image: Chris Tarrant gets a new series of Man O Man]
Chris Tarrant gets a new series of Man O Man
Pete Postlethewaite stars in Butterfly Collectors, while Trevor Eve appears in Evil Streak.

Films are led by the screening of every James Bond film ever made, from Sean Connery's Dr No to the UK TV premiere of Tomorrow Never Dies. Last week's showing of Goldeneye, uninterrupted by news, gained an estimated 12m viewers.

In April, new current affairs flagship Tonight - With Trevor McDonald replaces World In Action. Its team includes veteran ITN reporter Michael Nicholson as well as two former BBC names, Martin Bashir from Panorama and Jonathan Maitland from Watchdog.

Programmes for the millennium

[ image: Trevor McDonald hosts new current affairs show Tonight]
Trevor McDonald hosts new current affairs show Tonight
Millennium-themed programming is led by Melvyn Bragg, who fronts Two Thousand Years - a 20 part series on the history of Christianity.

Documentaries include Birth Race 2000, which follows couples eager to have the first baby of the new millennium. Family Life is a portrait of an extended Yorkshire family, while For Better For Worse features eight couples as they start married life.

Chris Tarrant returns from the success of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? to host a new series of Man O Man, while his fellow DJ on London's Capital FM, Steve Penk, gets a new TV show, Would I Lie To You?

In January 1998 Penk achieved national notoriety by convincing the Downing Street switchboard he was Conservative leader William Hague so he could speak to Tony Blair.

The BBC will unveil its response to ITV's ratings lead when it reveals its new schedule next week.

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