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TV CHANNEL BBC3, starts Sun 9 Feb, 7pm
he birth of a new channel used to be a big deal. Channel 4’s
difficult arrival in 1982 broke the BBC/ITV hegemony, promising a
reflection of the rawer side to multi-cultural Britain. And six years ago, Five (nee Channel 5) had the Spice Girls prancing about on launch day.
These days, with the sprawl of digital, cable and satellite, into which the terrestrial channels have happily plunged (though some say they’ve had no choice), a new channel is about as rare as a media personality having their home PC being dragged in for questioning by the vice squad. Not that BBC3 (the channel formerly known as Choice) will be open to accusations of filth. It’s all good, clean fun.
Under the auspices of Stuart Murphy, a cash-strapped BBC Choice Little Britain ‘7' relied on imports (24), repeats (EastEnders) and imported repeats (Murder One). 8803 has been given money to spare. So, the emphasis is on original programming with drama, docu tentary, comedy, animation and news to the fore, all aimed at a young, hungry and largely ignored sector: 25 to 34-year-olds. ‘That audience is adult but feel that they’re ten years younger than their body,’ insists Murphy, sitting comfortably Within that range. ’Ahd they’ve had to mature a lot quicker than previous generations of 25 to 34-year-olds; they've gone through more parental divorce, they’ve been in contact with drugs, they’ve travelled. Generally speaking they’ve done lots of stuff off their own back. That makes them a monkey . difficult audience to engage with.’
Judging by the first raft of shows Murphy has planned for that group, he seems to be relishing the rules of engagement. Burn It is a tough ensemble drama about Mancunian (zen Xers starring Mel 8, Chris Coghlll and Lisa Faulkner while con‘edy cornes ii the form of Little Britain with Matt Lucas and David Wailianzs (‘i makes intelligent points about the disturbing side to middle England’ say“ Murphy). And Charlie Higson’s bequiffed car dealer Swiss Toni proves that life after The Fast Show is a lot like making love to a beautiful woman.
The terrestrial channels don‘t take animation particularly seriously (unless you count ZDTV, which we don't) but Murphy and 3 does. Angry Kid can currently be seen online, but the misai‘ithropic ginger will be causing widespread mayhem on 3, while Chris Morris" production company gives us Monkey Dust, a dark satirical look at the shallowncss of contemporary Britain.
Every channel needs its big names to hang success on. ITV has Chris Tarrant and Trevor MacDonald. Terrestrial BBC has David Attenborough and Anne Robinson. BBC3 is relying on Dorn Joly and 'v'lnnie Jones to prove its youthful credentials. The ex—Wimbledon hard man and Guy Ritchie’s hunting buddy will be tracked in pseudo—Osbournes style over 20 episodes in which he makes movies with Morgan Freerr.an, gets burgled and sorts out cable TV for his dear old ma.
This is Dom Joly is a show of sketches, music and celebrity chat which brings the OAP-baiter off the streets and into a studio. ‘He’s a very bright guy and a snappy dresser, yet oddly quite shy, but he has a lot of things he wants to say,’ says Murphy. ‘He’s playing this real prat of a character who also happens to be called Dom Joly but he’s not afraid that people will think that it’s him; he reckons if they don't get it, so what'?’ Stuart Murphy will hope the same won’t apply to his channel. (Brian Donaldson)