Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Low Five

Jane Lighting didn't pull her punches in parting company with Dan Chambers.

Five's chief executive praised him with "Dan has done a good job" before sticking the knife in with "we now need a creative director with the skills and expertise to run a portfolio of channels".

Sorry Dan that isn't you, seems to be the subtext. Five has done a lot to move itself on from its early days of football, soft porn and movies.

It does have some quality programming from the US with the likes of 'Gray's Anatomy' and 'House', which put it firmly in Channel 4's back yard. Then it has the likes of its cop related slate of 'CSI' and 'NCIS'.

But, unlike C4, it hasn't ever really made the jump to producing much in the way of quality drama that way C4 has with 'Shameless', 'Black Books' and 'Green Wing'.

However, it is starting to do more and has a new backpacker drama, 'Tripping Over', starting this week from 'Cold Feet' writer Mike Bullen. Being something of a first, and funded by Chambers with the cash saved from axing lame soap 'Family Affairs', it has had some good write-ups.

Sadly, according to Media Guardian despite a largely positive critical reaction it debuted last night with an underwhelming 900,000 viewers and a 5% share between 10pm and 11pm, according to unofficial overnights.

Shame, but if you will tuck it away at 10pm then really, what do you expect?

Other than that, there is increasingly little to distinguish C4 and Five. They both rely on reality programming with Five filling up on the likes of 'The Farm', 'Make Me a Supermodel' and 'Back to Reality'. Not quite 'Big Brother'.

Five also rivals C4 on the home and gardens front, as well with its slew of house related programming, which is also pretty indistinguishable.

Maybe that is the problem. Maybe that is why Five's annual audience share has notably fallen since its high of 6.6% in 2004, and is now down to 5.8% this year.

Time to strike out. Its just-launched digital channels, Five US and Five Life, should give it some scope to do that.

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