TOTP gets Saturday morning slot

BBC bosses are launching a Saturday morning edition of Top Of The Pops to mount a challenge to ITV1’s CD:UK, it was announced today.

BBC bosses are launching a Saturday morning edition of Top Of The Pops to mount a challenge to ITV1’s CD:UK, it was announced today.

TOTP, the UK television’s longest running music show, is to have a new slot during BBC1’s hit kids programme The Saturday Show from the autumn.

Two new presenters for The Saturday Show were also announced today to replace Dani Behr and Joe Mace. They are CBBC host Fearne Cotton and TV newcomer Simon Grant.

The success of ITV1’s Saturday shows SM:tv Live and CD:UK, a music-based segment, in the battle for kids viewing each week led to the axing of BBC1’s long running Live And Kicking.

The Beeb bounced back with The Saturday Show which has eaten into a large chunk of their rival’s audience, particularly after the departure of Ant and Dec.

The launch of Top Of The Pops On Saturday is expected to help still further. It will package together performances from the Friday evening show along with new footage, interviews, and live performances as well as going behind the scenes.

TOTP has launched a number of UK spin-offs with the more adult-oriented TOTP2, an annual awards show and TOTP-Plus.

It is now a major worldwide brand seen in more than 90 countries and has its own CDs and DVDs.

Chris Cowey, executive producer of TOTP, said: “The Saturday Show edition of Top Of The Pops is another natural extension to the current Top Of The Pops brand and it’s an exciting opportunity to build on Top Of The Pops’ successful reputation.

“In much the same way that TOTP2 caters for the adult audience and Top Of The Pops magazine caters for the pre-teen audience, this new edition will ensure the Top Of The Pops brand continues to offer the best pop music to a new audience of Saturday morning viewers.”

With the success of CD:UK, music bosses no longer consider getting their acts on TOTP to be the holy grail for pop audiences and are just as keen to get their acts on the ITV1 show where they will be seen by younger fans.

Earlier this year music boss Simon Cowell was prepared to snub TOTP for his act Will Young because show chiefs were not prepared to allow him to do two songs.

Cowell pointed out that CD:UK was just as important to record labels.

New Saturday Show presenter Fearne, 20, is already a popular face on CBBC during the week, but she is also one of the hosts of the digital channel’s Sunday morning show Smile and its factual series Eureka TV.

She said: “Presenting Saturday mornings has been a dream for a long time. And one day in September I am going to wake up very early and it will be a reality. I can’t wait.”

Grant, 24, has not worked in TV before. A drama graduate from Middlesex University, he has been a holiday rep for more than two years.

He said: “I grew up with Saturday morning television and now I am going to be one of the first faces that kids see when they turn their television on.

“That might be a daunting thought for some people but I can’t wait to get started,” he added.

Nigel Pickard, the controller of CBBC, said: “The Saturday Show has made great strides in the last year.

“With two fresh new faces and a special edition of Top Of The Pops joining the line up every Saturday morning starting this autumn, it reinforces CBBC’s commitment to providing a different and refreshing choice for kids at the weekend.”

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