When Neighbours defects to Channel Five, just what kind of programme will inherit that all-important pre-news teatime berth? There’s been talk of Waterloo Road getting revamped as a daily soap. Revised repeats of River City have been discussed. One up-to-no-good rumour-monger even mooted the possibility of Phil Redmond launching a new teen drama in the slot, which is just too hideous to contemplate.
No, a proposition of a far more recognisable, familiar feel is called for. And assuming there’s the money for something other than repeats of The Flintstones, a number of alternatives suggest themselves:
1) GOOD FRIENDS
A bright and breezy soap set in London’s Australian ex-pat community, where a friendly wave of the hand helps to make the perfect blend of neighbourliness, and where people are there for one and another. Leading a star cast of more than a few familiar faces is Alan Dale, who plays the gruff patriach of a sprawling family clan comprising Stefan Dennis, Anne Scott-Pendlebury, Natalie Imbruglia, Jason Donovan, Mark Little, Dannii Minogue, Kylie Flinker, Melissa Bell, Kristian Schmid and Peta Brady, with special guest appearances by Alan Fletcher and Terence Donovan, and a very special guest appearance by Norman Coburn.
2) ROLF HARRIS CARTOON TIME
Rolf uncaps his fat marker pens once again to celebrate the finest animation of the last 100 years – now including such contemporary classics as Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butthead, Capitol Critters and Watch My Chops. All finished drawings will be donated to local hospitals.
3) HOLBY HIGH
The ups and downs of life at a Bristol comprehensive, where having fun and struggling to grow up are two subjects very much on the curriculum. An unusually high accident rate means the school bears witness to more than a few visits from staff of the local accident and emergency department – but that’s OK, because as luck would have it, most of them send their kids to Holby High anyway!
4) MASTERTEAM 2.0
Angela Rippon is back to front a new nationwide hunt for the country’s finest amateur quizmasters – only this time, she’s looking to tap the cream of the UK’s interactive community. Teams comprising members of fan websites, mailing lists and discussion groups will join Angela in the studio to battle their way through the infamous pot pourri round (“After all this time, I *still* don’t know what we’re going to get!” quips Angela), while viewers at home will be able to join in via the red button whenever they hear the cry “Let’s play – or press!”
5) THE ONE SHOW EXTRA
Dominic Wood and Claudia Winkleman host a fast and furious son of The One Show, packed with live music, special guests, on-the-spot reports and lots and lots of surprises. There’ll be recipes, TV previews, real life stories from around the country and chat with all your favourite BBC faces…plus Adrian Chiles popping in from time to time to help out. Your essential teatime appetiser.