LONDON — British pay TV channel operator UKTV, owned by the BBC and Virgin Media, has signed the presenters of one of Blighty’s most high-profile talk shows.
The husband and wife duo of Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan are to host a daily primetime show on what UKTV said will be a “new look channel” that will bow this year.
Richard and Judy, as the wholesome pair are known in Blighty, first came to fame as a cornerstone of ITV1’s daytime line-up but were later poached by rival Channel 4. Last fall the duo announced they would exit Channel 4 this summer.
The pair are so influential here that, like Oprah Winfrey, their book club recommendations invariably become best sellers.
UKTV’s move will bolster its business model, which is based on reruns of high-profile shows, principally from the BBC.
As on-demand TV kicks in, UKTV will need to commission more of its own fare or risk auds defecting to new media services.
“To have brought the king and queen of British telly to UKTV, and to be working closely with them to develop a show that will be the most talked about in TV, clearly demonstrates the magnitude of our ambition to drive differentiation for our pay TV partners in 2008 and beyond,” says UKTV controller Matthew Littleford.
UKTV’s portfolio includes UKTV Gold, and webs dedicated to drama, history and style, plus Dave, its iconic channel aimed at males under 35.