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Last Updated: Friday, 25 August 2006, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Sky aims for 'trailblazing' shows
By Kevin Young
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Christian O'Connell
Richard Woolfe defended Christian O'Connell's poor viewing figures
Sky One will become a "trailblazing" entertainment channel with attention- grabbing TV shows, the broadcaster's director of programmes has said.

Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival, Richard Woolfe said he had "not gone to Sky One to manage decline".

He said he hoped the remake of 1960s drama The Prisoner, and a celebrity circus reality show would lift ratings.

Mr Woolfe, who took over the role earlier this year, added it "won't take a lot" to attract greater audiences.

Cult hit

He said he hoped The Prisoner - which will cost 1m an episode - would be "our Doctor Who", referring to the BBC's highly successful remake.

He added The Prisoner was "the perfect show to reinvigorate and bring back to life". The cast has yet to be announced, but there will initially be six episodes of the series.

The original 1960s series, which starred Patrick McGoohan as a man living in a strange village from which there was no escape, became a cult hit.

Mr Woolfe added that more than 60 celebrities had agreed to take part in a reality show, Cirque de Celebrite, in which they will become circus entertainers.

Another reality show, The Race, will see Formula One drivers Eddie Irvine and David Coulthard train two teams of celebrities in grand prix motoring.

Mr Woolfe said he was also searching for an "ambitious, attention-grabbing" drama to replace football series Dream Team.

He axed the long-running drama about Harchester United football club in April after a run of 10 years.

'Very lucky'

Mr Woolfe said Sky One had recently shown high-quality documentaries "worthy of being on Channel 4" but that it was "really difficult" to attract viewers to one-off programmes.

To combat this, he plans to create a "long-running factual entertainment strand" which would group together such output.

But he also said Sky One already had "some brilliant brands", praising cartoon series The Simpson as "the best show on TV".

Mr Woolfe also defended a show hosted by Virgin Radio DJ Christian O'Connell which attracted an average of only 63,000 viewers, according to figures quoted during his panel session.

He said he was "really proud" that Sky One had made the programme and said focus groups and some TV critics had praised it.

"Viewers don't expect to see a show like that on Sky One at that time.

"You'd be very lucky to put on a show [like that] and for it to work straight away," added Mr Woolfe.

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