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Wednesday, November 10, 1999 Published at 18:44 GMT


Ali G leads Channel 4's winter

Staines' finest: Suburban ghetto kid Ali G has been a huge success

A new series for cult comic character Ali G is part of Channel 4's winter line-up - while the gay drama Queer As Folk could spawn a spin-off soap, station bosses have said.

The spoof "yoof TV" interviewer - played by Sacha Baron Cohen - made his debut on the satirical 11 O'Clock Show earlier this year.

Victims of his "interviews" include politicians Ron Davies, Tony Benn and Rhodes Boyson.

Comedian Peter Kay also gets his own show, and Harry Hill, Graham Norton and Smack The Pony return to the channel, as does US comedy Sex And The City.

[ image: Queer as Soap? Channel 4's controversial drama could run and run]
Queer as Soap? Channel 4's controversial drama could run and run
Queer As Folk - which prompted 160 complaints to the Independent Television Commission when it was first shown - returns for a new series in February.

Despite the controversy, the ITC cleared the show of breaching programme codes, and Channel 4 has asked for plots to be sketched out for 20 half-hour shows which could be extended into the future.

Commissioning editor Jonathan Young said: "Although there was an initial burst of controversy which launched the show on a high, what people actually remember about it are the relationships of the characters. "I can see a huge opportunity to do new and intersting things with the relationships that we couldn't get into Queer As Folk. It's going to be fantastic."

[ image: Harry Hill returns for a new series]
Harry Hill returns for a new series
Director of programmes Tim Gardam said C4's controller, Michael Jackson, had talked about doing a late-night soap.

"It would dramatically change the Channel 4 schedule. There is no title for it yet, but there are all sorts of titles going around."

The station is also planning a lavish new version of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina starring Helen McCrory, whose credits include the movie Dad Savage and TV series Trial And Retribution. Douglas Henshall of Channel 4's Psychos co-stars.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: "For this adaptation we are going beyond the central love story to bring in a more rounded version, touching on the lives of more of the characters."

[ image: White Tribe focuses on outrageous comic Bernard Manning]
White Tribe focuses on outrageous comic Bernard Manning
The schedule also throws up an intriguing series from Trinidad-born broadcaster Darcus Howe who will be looking at the changing notion of Englishness in White Tribe.

Among the people he speaks to as he tours England are comedian Bernard Manning - known for his racist and sexist material - and a group of Buddhists in Lancashire.

Channel 4 has also lined up a raft of prime-time documentaries, many dealing with war, conflict and their aftermath.

These include Blunders, which looks at the tragic consequences of military mistakes through the ages, and War In Europe details the struggles in Kosovo.

Historical series include Escape From Colditz which follows army veterans as they return to the notorious prisoner of war camp and sets modern recruits the task of restaging their dramatic escape plans.

Among the other series are Great Undertakings, looking at death and mourning through the eyes of funeral directors, and The Force which profiles the work of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Teenage Sexuality is a three-part documentary examining young people's attitudes and looks at the impact dietary and medical advances have had on adolescents' lives.

Tim Gardam said: "In 1999 Channel 4 has again proved that it has the most original, challenging and talked about programmes and we are determined to deliver even more ambitious and provocative television in 2000."

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