As a teenager I'd spend countless hours with friends discussing how
good it would be to have a night-time X-rated version of Neighbours or
Home & Away to feed our pubescent desires by showing us Kylie and
Natalie and other Aussie stunners getting down and dirty.
This banal fantasy sums up part of the appeal of ITV's new soap, Night
and Day, that goes out three times a week at tea-time and then as a
specially edited late omnibus edition, complete with extra saucy
Essentially, though, Night and Day is a daytime soap that pushes some
very familiar buttons.
Night and Day tells the story of six families living on a street in
Greenwich in south-east London. It has the feel of a posh EastEnders, a
kind of Hollyoaks comes to Walford. Soaps are really difficult to judge
after just three episodes but there seems to be plenty of potential in
Night and Day.
The cast is pretty heavyweight for an afternoon soap: Gareth Hunt is the
landlord at The Nautilus boozer; Lysette Anthony plays Roxanne, who has
just got pregnant by her husband, Alex, played by Joe McGann, who is
having an affair with the Lolita-like temptress Jane. Birds of a Feather
stalwart Lesley Joseph also has a part as a spinster called Rachel.
The initial plot revolves around the disappearance of Jane, the teenager
having an affair with married McGann, as well as a few other sub-plots
such as a kid threatened with being taken into care and the pregnancy of
As you'd expect for the first week of a soap, the acting is a little
wooden. But the characters are all the soap archetypes: teenage hussy;
unfaithful husband; and pub landlord - and this helps us to get into
Night and Day has taken a production style from popular dramas such as
Cold Feet and merged this with the traditional soap approach. Writer
Caleb Ranson clearly has aspirations beyond the traditional soap
formula. Night and Day has the surreal meeting the cheesy. When Alex and
Jane go off for a romp we cut to images of fireworks and young hunks
that are running through Jane's mind.
The early episodes of Night and Day pulled in 2.2 million viewers in the
afternoons, fewer than The Weakest Link on BBC2 and Channel 4's A Place
in the Sun. This may increase with time but I can't see ITV recapturing
the five million it got for Home & Away.
But a respectable 2.6 million viewers tuned into the late-night Thursday
omnibus, and that's up against Channel 4's brilliant Sopranos. Many, I
suspect, are the young teenagers who watch in the afternoon hoping to
see a bit of flesh. So was it worth waiting for? Well, a bit of spicy
language and McGann getting down to it wasn't the kind of fantasy I had
Frequency: Tuesday to Thursday at 5.05pm and 10.20pm on Thursday
Audience: 2.2 million (Tuesday) 2.6 million (Thursday night)
Advertisers include: Kellogg, Iceland, Bounty, Surf, Cadbury's Roses,
Comfort (first break on Wednesday afternoon)