Cherie Booth to front series on street crime

Cherie Booth, the lawyer wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair, is to front a specially set up commission examining gun and knife crime that will form part of a new season of programs on the U.K.’s Channel 4.

Booth, who continued in legal practice during the Blair administration, will chair a so-called Street Weapons Commission, as part of the season exploring street crime in the U.K.

Booth said: “Like many others, I am deeply concerned that guns and knives are becoming a part of everyday life for some young people in Britain.

“As a barrister and part-time judge, I have to sentence offenders who have committed crimes with such weapons and have seen for myself the misery that they cause not only to the victims but to themselves and their families.”

Booth will lead a team of experts in “The Truth about Street Weapons,” five two-hour programs that will conduct hearings in various U.K. cities where street crime is a problem.

Other shows tackling the issue of street crime, announced as part of Channel 4’s spring and summer season, include the drama “Fallout,” based on a play written by Roy Williams and staged at London’s Royal Court in 2002, and a week of short films highlighting the victims of street crime.

The initiative is designed to help re-establish the broadcaster’s public service credentials as it campaigns for a public subsidy.

Station toppers argue the coin is essential if Channel 4 is to remain financially viable in the digital age.

Also unveiled at the program launch were more slots for fledgling talent and a new topical comedy show, provisionally entitled “The Nightly Show.”

This will air on weekdays for three consecutive weeks over the summer and showcase new comics.

“The Nightly Show” is being seen as a successor to “The 11 O’clock Show,” a late night comedy Channel 4 sketch program that introduced British TV audiences to Ricky Gervais and Sacha Baron Cohen in the 1990s.

At the launch little was said about the program that will inevitably dominate ratings over the web’s summer season — “Big Brother,” due to air for 13-weeks.

Asked if the reality juggernaut, which landed Channel 4 in hot water last year over a row involving racism, would be aiming to show off some public service credentials of its own, head of Channel 4 Julian Bellamy said: “I don’t think you can set out to make ‘Big Brother’ public service.”

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