Channel 4 axes Boys & Girls and Celebrity Big Brother

LONDON - Channel 4 is to shake up its Saturday evening schedule following its decision to axe 'Boys & Girls', according to chief executive Mark Thompson.

Speaking at the Broadcasting Press Guild lunch yesterday, Thompson admitted that entertainment did not work for the channel on a Saturday night and that it would look at targeting a more upmarket audience.

"We should look at interesting, upmarket, thought-provoking alternatives," he said.

He also said that the celebrity version of hit reality TV show 'Big Brother' would not return, because he doubted it could continue to be interesting if ran for further series.

"The reason I like 'Big Brother' each year is because it is interesting each year -- because of the different people you get in the house. But it's the new group of people that's interesting, and I'm sceptical about how different and interesting you can make 'Celebrity Big Brother'," he said.

The decision to change the entertainment strand on Saturday nights comes as Thompson admits that 'Boys & Girls' may have had limited appeal because it has been too focused on its 16- to 24-year-old audience.

"Maybe the programme was in some ways too narrowly focused on a certain audience in age terms to be a really big success for us. It will not be back," he said.

The show, created by Evan's UMTV production company, involved 100 young men competing against 100 young women for a prize of £100,000. It was hosted by Vernon Kay.

Channel 4, which is reported to have spent £500,000 an episode on the show, had been banking on it imitating the success of Evans's previous entertainment shows such as 'Don't Forget Your Toothbrush' in the 90s and more recently 'TFI Friday'.

However, it turned out to be a big risk for the broadcaster and failed to attract the cult followings enjoyed by Evans' previous shows. The show was moved from peaktime to 10.30pm, after it failed to draw more than 1.1m viewers.

The broadcaster will continue to work with Evans despite the disappointing performance of 'Boys & Girls'.

Thompson called the show an experiment, in line with his vision of taking risks with programming to set it apart from its rivals.

"It was certainly an experiment to do something big on a Saturday night. People who liked 'Boys & Girls' really liked it."

The show was sponsored by Cadbury Trebor Basset mint sweets 24/7, which is reported to have paid 1.4m for a 13-week deal.

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