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Last Updated: Friday, 12 May 2006, 14:42 GMT 15:42 UK
ITV swings axe to revive channel
Des O'Connor and Melanie Sykes
Today With Des And Mel launched in January 2002
ITV is to axe a string of popular TV programmes in a bid to refresh the schedule on its main channel, ITV1.

Among the shows being scrapped are Today With Des And Mel, Celebrity Fit Club and drama Rosemary and Thyme.

In a speech to the Royal Television Society, ITV director of TV Simon Shaps said the channel was undertaking "painful, but utterly necessary" steps.

He described it as ITV's "clause IV moment", referring to Tony Blair's reinvention of the Labour party.

Lifestyle shows

Mr Shaps, who was appointed to the role in September 2005, said he wanted ITV to "take more risks".

He said he also agreed with some of the criticisms levelled at ITV and admitted the network "largely missed" the revolution in lifestyle programming.

He said: "We are undertaking a painful, but utterly necessary, process - a kind of clause IV moment for ITV - which is to drop programmes which, by the criteria of most of our competitors, are still performing incredibly well.

"Why? Because we know that that volume without value is no longer enough.

"Value in terms of viewer engagement, value in terms of audience profile, value in terms of word of mouth and the perception of the channel."

'Fantastic job'

Mr Shaps added he wanted ITV to spend its annual 300m drama budget on "contemporary, less predictable" work.

He called on writers and producers to start thinking about ITV as a place that "wants more than cop shows and period detectives".

Des O'Connor and co-host Melanie Sykes were told earlier this week that their afternoon show was among those facing the chop.

An ITV1 spokeswoman said: "Des and Mel have done a fantastic job and we're very grateful.

"The daytime schedule is being overhauled and we have some exciting new programmes lined up."

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