ITV announces new shows
Celebrities hope to inspire nation to get fit
ITV1 today announced a package of programmes to inspire the nation to go on a health kick after Christmas.
A "major new initiative" to be launched in early 2009 ties in with the Government's Change4Life campaign tackling obesity, ITV said.
The initiative, with a working title of The Feelgood Factor aims to encourage people to shape up and get fit.
The high-profile campaign, will also be supported by some yet-to-be-named celebrities from the channel's most popular shows.
The initiative will launch with a big entertainment event at the end of January with a follow-up show at the end of March.
The shows will be complemented by an online support campaign at www.itv.com.
They will be a mix of popular live music, dance and comedy combined with advice and challenges from celebrities and experts on how to lose weight and get fit in 2009.
The shows will also feature ways of getting friends and family involved by sponsoring weight loss.
Throughout the country everyone can pledge to give a friend pounds in cash for every pound in weight they promise to lose, to be donated to a charity of the slimmer's choosing.
An ITV spokesman said: "What we were trying to do is capture that moment when we all have that resolution after Christmas.
"We're going to be encouraging people to do it with their work friends, people in their street and family.
"The idea is something we have been considering for a number of years now."
Another show which is part of ITV1's winter/spring season is Claire Sweeney's Big Fat Diet, which saw the actress pile on about two stones in weight and her bra size boosted to a G cup.
Jo Clinton-Davis, controller of popular factual commissioning said the show was a journey into modern-day obesity.
She said that Sweeney put on weight by taking the attitude that "life's too short to diet".
Ms Clinton-Davis said that Sweeney's cholesterol level was raised and "it took only about six weeks to put on the bulk of the weight".
A daytime lifestyle show called The Biggest Loser has also been commissioned, which has already been a hit in the US and Australia.
The weight loss programme will be set in a country house and contestants who have lost the least amount of weight are voted out in a Fame Academy-style contest.
Adam MacDonald, controller, daytime, said the programme was "Not sneering and pointing and laughing".
He said it took a compassionate approach to people's heroic efforts to exercise.
The new ITV1 line-up also includes a remake of classic series The Prisoner starring Sir Ian McKellen - but instead of being shot in the Welsh resort of Portmeirion like the original series, this one has been filmed in Namibia.
Other entertainment shows in the line-up include Al Murray's Multiple Personality Disorder, which sees the comedian don a pink Nazi-style uniform to play Horst Schwull, an aide to Hitler who is a bit "on the 'kamp' side".
Bradley Walsh will star in Law and Order: UK, based on the successful US format, and Rupert Penry-Jones stars in Whitechapel, a new thriller in which someone has carried out Jack the Ripper-style murders.
John Hurt reprises his role as Quentin Crisp in An Englishman in New York and a newly made over Krypton Factor is back.
Moving Wallpaper is back in which the audience must brace themselves for a new project following the end of Echo Beach - a one-off drama called Renaissance, starring Kelly Brook.
Ashes to Ashes star Philip Glenister returns to ITV1 for Demons, a fantastical new drama that puts a contemporary twist on the story of Dracula, set on the streets of modern-day London, and Julia McKenzie makes her debut as spinster sleuth Jane Marple.
Sir David Jason stars as a Second World War veteran in a one-off film called Albert's Memorial.
Billy Connolly turns explorer as he embarks on a journey through the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific and in another show, Martin Clunes will travel round the islands of Britain.
Doctors and Nurses At War will follow NHS trauma surgeons, paramedics and nurses working with the British Army in Afghanistan.
Chris Tarrant's new prime time game show The Colour of Money will also air on ITV1.
It features cash machines that will pay out huge amounts of money if contestants hold their nerve.
Old favourites like Harry Hill's TV Burp, It'll Be Alright on the Night - now hosted by Griff Rhys Jones, and Hell's Kitchen with Marco Pierre White also feature in the winter/spring line-up.
Peter Fincham, ITV director of television, said at ITV1's new season launch in London that ITV1 and BBC1 were members of a "very small club" of mainstream TV channels.
He said he believed in mainstream television "very strongly, indeed".
He said: "These are tough times economically, but people are watching TV."