ITV reveals dramatic spring schedule

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CORRECTED 2:52 p.m. PT March 19, 2008
UPDATED 1:31 p.m. PT March 19, 2008

LONDON -- ITV is bringing Warner Bros. Television's drama "Pushing Daisies" to primetime in the spring, as part of its season launch unveiled Wednesday by outgoing director of television Simon Shaps.

The Golden Globe-nominated drama is one of the first U.S. acquisitions to air in primetime in a number of years. Final scheduling details have not been announced but it is thought that the drama could air in the key 9 p.m. slot that ITV has been attempting to invigorate.

Highlights of the spring-summer season include "HRH: The Duke of Edinburgh," a landmark documentary for ITV made by Indigo Prods. The docu includes a behind-the-scenes look at royal life, after a camera crew was given unprecedented access to the duke in action during the past 12 months and includes exclusive interviews and never-before-seen footage filmed by the duke.

The docu, which looks at the role that the duke has played during the past 60 years as the queen's husband and consort, also sees the duke interviewed by ITV news anchor Trevor McDonald.

New drama highlights include "Tender Loving Care," a contemporary medical drama about a group of physicians and their patients, and tense conspiracy thriller "Midnight Man," which stars James Nesbitt as a former journalist who is forced to turn fugitive after stumbling onto the activities of a shadowy death squad.

Returning dramas include new episodes of "Agatha Christie's Marple," featuring Geraldine McEwan as the genteel lady sleuth, as well as returning seasons of "Foyle's War" and "Midsomer Murders."

Entertainment highlights include a new series titled "Beat the Star," fronted by Vernon Kay, and the singing talent show "Fever Pitch." Returning shows include Season 2 of the hit "Britain's Got Talent."

"The upcoming season on ITV1 sees a stellar lineup of thought-provoking factual programming in addition to ITV1's proven mix of big event entertainment and quality drama," Shaps said. "This schedule continues to reflect our commitment to broadening the depth and breadth of programming for the ITV1 audiences."

Shaps will be replaced by former BBC1 controller Peter Fincham in May. It's not the only change on tap.

ITV controller of entertainment Duncan Gray told local media Wednesday that he plans to leave the broadcaster after two years.

Gray, a key Shaps hire who has worked on top ITV1 shows including "The X Factor" and "Britain's Got Talent," will be replaced by John Kaye Cooper, creative director of independent production company Talent TV, the MediaGuardian Web site reported.

"All good things must come to an end and I wish my successor all the best in what is a very special job," Gray said. "I have been lucky to work with the very best performers and producers in the U.K. and I'd like to thank them all for their support. I've yet to make a decision about what I'm going to do next but in the immediate future I'll simply be enjoying some time off."

ITV could not be reached for comment at press time.
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