Channel 4 promises drama as spring schedule is unveiled

LONDON - Fans of US shows such as 'Sex and the City' and 'Friends' need not be dismayed as these come to an end, as Channel 4 is putting New York at the centre of its spring schedule in a new British drama 'NY-LON'.

Channel 4 head of drama John Yorke is sticking to the promise he made last year of delivering more British drama. Highlights include 'NY-LON', described as "'Brief Encounter' told in the language of '24'".

'NY-LON', short for New York London, is the story of a long-distance love-affair, which is the first British drama to be filmed partly on location in New York's trendy Lower East Side.

It tells the story of Michael, a hard-nosed London City high-flier and Edie, a New York woman immersed in the indie music scene. It was created by Simon Burke, who was behind the adaptation of Zadie Smith's 'White Teeth' and stars Rashida Jones from Steven Soderbergh's 'Full Frontal' as Edie, Stephen Moyer from Channel 4's 'Men Only' as Michael.

Other highlights in drama include: 'No Angels', an irreverant 10-part drama about the lives and loves of four young nurses in Leeds, which begins in March; and 'Omagh', a feature-length drama from Paul Greengrass that examines the events of Real IRA bombing in the town August 15 1998 and the lasting aftermath felt by families of the 29 victims.

In entertainment, Channel 4 sticks to the "if it ain't broke" mantra with a host of returns including 'Black Books', 'Derren Brown: Trick of the Mind' and 'Bo Selecta!' in March, April and May respectively.

Kevin Lygo, Channel 4's director of television, claimed that there still was not a replacement for Graham Norton's show and he was on the look-out for new talent to replace him.

Factual programming includes: 'Brat Camp', which dispatches six unmanageable teenagers -- described by their parents as abusive, arrogant and ill disciplined -- to an American "wilderness camp" in the wilds of Utah; and 'The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off', a moving documentary about Jonny Kennedy whose medical condition meant that his skin falls off at the slightest touch. The channel promises that the programme would document his last months in an "uplifting and provocatively humorous way". Both shows air in March.

The channel refused to be drawn on the fifth series of 'Big Brother', which may be down to criticisms that the show had become stale. This year marks the first time that the channel is holding regional auditions. The 'Pop Idol'-style open auditions aim to find more interesting personalities. It has also been reported that the show will be tougher on contestants with more arduous challenges. The last series attracted an average audience of 4.5m, 1m down on the previous year.

American acquisitions this season, which have been widely reported on, come in the form of 'The Simpsons', 'The OC' described as "Dawson's Creek with a dark side" and Sky One hit 'Nip/Tuck'.

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