MEDIA: NIGHT AND DAY - AN EXPERT'S VIEW. Ian Darby tuned in to Night and Day, ITV1's latest soap offering, which boasts a saucy omnibus

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

scenes.



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

Anthony.



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

it.



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

in mind.



Channel: ITV1

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)