Channel 4 moves focus to Friday night

Net to cut period dramas, looks towards modern fare

LONDON — The U.K.’s Channel 4 has ditched entertainment programming on Saturday nights after the failure of Chris Evans’ dating show “Boys and Girls,” which has been picked up by ABC in the U.S.

C4 head of entertainment Danielle Lux will focus on the web’s Friday night’s schedule of comedy and entertainment.

For years, pubcaster flagship channel BBC1 and commercial rival ITV1 have dominated the ratings with big Saturday night entertainment shows, leaving C4 to schedule documentaries, films and its “100 Best” franchise of programs.

“Boys and Girls” reportedly cost £500,000 ($819,000) per episode but only attracted 1.2 million viewers in a 9 p.m. slot and was relegated to 10:30 p.m. a month later. Despite that, Lux has not ruled out commissioning another series of “Boys and Girls,” which is produced by UMTV.

Evans, a successful presenter and now producer, has a track record of coming up with hits. He created a number of successful shows that were picked up by C4 including travel gamer “Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush,” which aired almost 10 years ago, and music and celebrity driven yakker “TFI Friday,” which the web broadcast on Friday nights.

C4 is also cutting period drama because many of its expensive productions attract fewer than 3 million viewers, according to its new head of drama John Yorke. Broadcaster tends to commission two or three big dramas series a year.

“Things like ‘Shackleton’ and ‘Longitude’ were very good but we need to concentrate on modern, urban and contemporary,” said Yorke. “Shackleton,” starring Kenneth Branagh, pulled in 3.6 million viewers while “Longitude” won 2.9 million viewers.

Instead, Yorke wants “urban and contemporary” drama and hopes to emulate the success of HBO hits “Six Feet Under,” “The Sopranos,” and “Sex and the City.”

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