BBC juggling primetime sked

'Dr. Who,' 'Panorama' return; dramas announced

LONDON -- The BBC announced it is putting its flagship investigative current affairs show "Panorama" back in a primetime slot, transferring "The Apprentice" from BBC2 to the main channel and trumpeted the return of "Dr. Who" as it unveiled its winter-spring lineup for its main channel Thursday.

The U.K. pubcaster said that "Panorama" will be hosted by popular Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine when it begins airing on BBC1 in a Monday-evening 8:30 p.m. slot. The show has recently been running in late-night Sundays.

The Beeb also said the switch will see "Panorama's" primetime output increase from 15.5 hours to 28 hours, consisting of 48 30-minute episodes and four one-hour specials.

Reality show "The Apprentice," starring Alan Sugar as the man in the hiring and firing line, will move from BBC2 to BBC1 beginning next year.

The BBC also hopes all eyes will be on the new series of "Dr. Who" when it returns to BBC1 with David Tennant and newcomer Freema Agyeman. Agyeman will step into Billie Piper's shoes as the doctor's new assistant, medical student Martha Jones.

BBC1 controller Peter Fincham described the new lineup as "bursting at the seams with great ideas and top talent."

Fincham also noted that the comedy pilot plan launched earlier this year with comedy commissioning controller Lucy Lumsden has spawned three new series for 2007: "Ronni Ancona & Co.," "After You've Gone" and "The Omid Djalili Show."

The channel also heralded the return of comedy duo Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse to the BBC fold with new sketch series "The Harry Enfield Show."

The channel's schedule also will be bolstered by new dramas, including "Five Days," a retooled version of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" from writer Stephen Moffat.

Actor James Nesbitt stars in Moffat's modern twist on the story, which turns it into a conspiracy thriller.

Other dramas come from Stephen Poliakoff, Tony Grounds and Heidi Thomas.

Poliakoff's drama explores the relationship between Eliot (Michael Gambon), a reclusive billionaire, and Joe (newcomer Danny Lee Wynter), the teenage son of a cleaner who takes care of a neighboring house.

Actress Jessie Wallace, a former star of BBC1 soap "EastEnders," returns to the channel as single mum Candy in Grounds' one-off drama "A Class Apart" alongside Nathaniel Parker ("The Inspector Lynley Mysteries") and George Cole ("Minder").

Penned by Thomas, "Lilies" is set in the years immediately following World War I and details the lives of Iris, May and Ruby Moss, Catholic sisters coming of age in a dockland terraced house in Liverpool.        
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