Profits at ITV fell by 35% in 2007 as the broadcaster faced up to phone-in scandals and a daily schedule that simply wasn’t exciting viewers.

Executive chairman Michael Grade has acknowledged the on-going problems that ITV faces, but remains bullish about the channel’s future.

The appointment of former BBC One controller Peter Fincham as ITV’s new director of television is being regarded by some industry analysts as a significant move in the right direction, although others are far less enthused.

Grade and Fincham still have a mountain to climb, at least as far as this occasional viewer is concerned.

The fact that the executive chairman singled out Britain’s Got Talent as one of ITV’s success stories in 2007 feels me with a deep sense of fear and loathing.

In recent years ITV has served up a diet of programmes that is at best one-dimensional and at worst insulting to the viewer.

For those of us not interested in X-Factor-style talent shows, increasingly convoluted game shows, soap operas, or the depressing bear baiting provided by the likes of Jeremy Kyle, there are still extremely slim pickings on ITV.

Ant and Dec have gone from TV heroes to zeroes since the giddy heights of their Saturday morning children’s show and the fact that they were caught slap bang in the middle of the phone-in scandal seemed somehow fitting – the golden boys of ITV were looking as tarnished as the channel they call home.

With a few exceptions, there is still little of interest in ITV’s schedule and it will be interesting to see just what Peter Fincham manages to do with the channel.

Apart from the entertaining slice of silliness that is Primeval, the whimsical diversion provided by Kingdom and the eccentricities of Harry Hill’s TV Burp, it is rare for me to hit the ITV button on the remote. Lewis, the Morse spin-off, has plenty of promise, but then it is only set for a four-part run and will no doubt be replaced by yet another drama involving a former soap star.

ITV is in dire need of a make-over. I just hope they don’t rope in Claire Sweeney or Anna Ryder-Richardson to help out with the new look.


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