High hopes

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 by

Meet the Britannia High punch-ables!

Meet the Britannia High pupils

“I’ve got quite a bit to get through – I’ve been doing this more years than I remember, certainly a lot more than 30 and this is by far the most complicated project I’ve been involved in.” That was outgoing Director of Entertainment and Comedy at ITV, Paul Jackson, this morning, unveiling to the press ITV1′s big white hope for Saturday nights, Britannia High.

“About this time last year,” he said, “I was asked if I’d take a pitch from David Ian and Arlene Phillips, both of whom, obviously, have massive reputations. So you don’t say no to that. They pitched a show about a performing arts school. A school for the very best – for triple talented A-star students. Students who can sing, can dance, can act.

“Although I’m very happy to be responsible for a lot of shows that bring celebrity quickly to people, I’m also interested in shows about people who work very hard to achieve their dreams.”

So, that’s the concept, but of particular interest is Jackson’s ascertain: “It’s the most ambitious 360 degree, multiplatform show ITV has ever done.” What this equates to is a Saturday night TV series that will have spin-off content on, ITV mobile, ITV Red Button, ITV interactive and social networking site Bebo. 

Plus, before the show launches, a number of free downloads will be made available via, and there’s also a partnership with iTunes, so songs featured in the show will be available to purchase immediately afterwards. The first to be released will be the Gary Barlow/Eliot Kennedy/Ina Wroldsen penned theme tune, Start of Something, on 29 September. A full album, on CD, will follow – and two DVD releases.

Most interestingly of all – and a first for an ITV1 drama – you’ll be able to view the debut episode online a week before network transmission. The show will ultimately reach good old-fashioned TV screens in October.

It has to be said with all this, plus a live finale promised, Britannia High is going to be monster. Whether that’s a monster hit or a monster flop remains to be seen…


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