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ITV dumps celebrity formats for quality drama this autumn

LONDON – ITV is abandoning celebrity reality formats in favour of quality drama and entertainment and has signed top British actors including 'Trainspotting' star Robert Carlysle and 'King Arthur' star Ray Winstone to pull in the audiences.

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At the launch of ITV's autumn schedule, director of programmes Nigel Pickard admitted the network was going "back to basics", expanding its core output of drama and entertainment after a year of drawn-out celebrity series such as 'Celebrity Wrestling' -- which was ditched after half of its eight-week run -- and 'Celebrity Love Island.'

"This year, we've experienced the inevitable ups and downs of trying new things. I'll always defend our need to experiment but that doesn't mean we lose sight of ITV's core strengths – big name drama and must-see events," Pickard said.

'Full Monty' and 'Trainspotting' actor Carlysle will star in 'Class of 76' while new 'Doctor Who' actor David Tennant will appear in drama 'Secret Smile'. 

ITV has also signed 'My Family' actor Robert Lindsay to appear in 1950s detective series 'Jericho', while 'Young Ones' comedian Rik Mayall and Winstone have both been signed to appear in new series.

The only ITV show to have the word 'celebrity' in it this autumn will be 'I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!', which will be back for a fifth run with its usual mix of fading popstars and Z-list celebrities.

The reality show set in an Australian jungle regularly pulls in audiences of over 8m for the network, while this summer's 'Celebrity Love Island' averaged 3.4m in comparison.

ITV is ploughing an extra £20m into its autumn programming budget, after Ofcom made the decision to cut the network's annual licence payments by at least £135m a year last month.

There will also be returning drama including 'A Touch of Frost', 'Rose & Maloney', 'Taggart', 'Foyle's War', 'The Brief' and 'Doc Martin'.

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