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Will Britannia rule the airwaves?

ITV's big new musical drama, Britannia High, will air in a prime-time weekend slot from next month, the broadcaster has confirmed. ITV launched the show at a special event in London yesterday, where it wheeled out the (very good looking) cast members and its creators, Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips and theatre impresario David Ian. For those coming late to Britannia High, which follows the fortunes of six students at a performing arts college, the nine-part show mixes music, dance and drama with the series ending with a live spectacular. Two red-button documentaries on how the cast was chosen will also accompany the show, while DVDs and music downloads aplenty will be thrown in for good measure. The show is being billed as ITV's most ambitious multiplatform project to date, with the first episode airing on a week before it hits the small screen. The outgoing ITV director of entertainment, Paul Jackson, said he had "high hopes" for the show, although he seemed to dampen expectations somewhat when he said it would be placed in a "very competitive schedule where there are no hiding places". When exactly it will air was not revealed, although ITV refused to rule out pitching the show against Strictly Come Dancing, which airs on both Saturday and Sundays, meaning Phillips' two shows could air against each other. Phillips told Monkey she didn't see any conflict in appearing on both channels, but said she knew where her heart lay in any battle. You can hear more from Arlene here. "I love Strictly Come Dancing," she said. "It is the best hobby in the world, but this [Britannia High] is my passion. This is something I have always wanted to do." Strictly a hobby? Ouch.

ITV Press Release

New musical drama Britannia High is set to explode onto our television screens this autumn in a whirlwind of stunning dance, sensational music and unforgettable drama. With original music composed by some of the biggest names in pop including Gary Barlow, Guy Chambers, Steve Mac, Mark Owen and Eliot Kennedy, Britannia High introduces six highly talented lead actors – Sapphire Elia, Georgina Hagen, Rana Roy, Mitch Hewer, Matthew James Thomas and Marcquelle Ward. Created by acclaimed choreographer Arlene Phillips and theatre impresario David Ian and produced by the drama team in Manchester responsible for Coronation Street, Blue Murder and Mobile, the focus of Britannia High is a contemporary British performing arts school where the super-talented students study hard to achieve their dreams of stardom while learning important lessons about friendship, love and life. There’s also cameo appearances from some of the UK’s top recording artistes – Girls Aloud and Boyzone plus special guest appearances by Coronation Street’s Ryan Thomas, ex-Busted and I’m A Celebrity winner, Matt Willis, EastEnders and Hollyoaks actress Gemma Bissex and comedian Richard Blackwood. Creative Director of Choreography for Britannia High Arlene Phillips and David Ian are Executive Producers working with the ITV Productions team led by Series Producer and Lead Director Brian Grant, Producer Gareth Philips and Executive Producers Kieran Roberts, Mark Wells and for Globe Productions Anita Land, that spent six months selecting the drama’s performers who sing, dance and act in the fictional performing arts school. In conjunction with Globe Productions, the television arm of Universal Music, Britannia High will be ITV’s most ambitious 360 degree, multi platform show to date. Extra content is planned on, ITV mobile, ITV Red Button, ITV interactive and social networking site Bebo. Fascination Records (part of the Universal Music Group) will release an album of tracks featured in the series on November 17th. Prior to this a number of free downloads will be made available via,, and also a partnership with iTunes and Bebo, starting with the Gary Barlow/Andy Hill/Eliot Kennedy penned theme tune “Start Of Something” on September 29th. And in an unprecedented step for an ITV1 drama, the first episode will be available a week before network transmission at the Britannia High website – and Explores the lives of the students, Claudine, Lauren, Danny, Lola, Jez and BB, as they attempt to learn how to make their mark on the world. They’re striving to be the best they possibly can be in every discipline and, as in life, there’s plenty of heartache, turmoil, laughs and fun along the way. Supporting them throughout their trials and tribulations are Principal Nugent played by Mark Benton (The Street, City Lights), and dance mentor Stefan played by Adam Garcia (Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen and Coyote Ugly). Lorraine Pilkington (Rough Diamond, Monarch of the Glen) also stars as music mentor Anna and Michele Austin (The Last Detective, The Bill) as eccentric landlady, Mrs Troy. The extended finale episode will be the pinnacle of the storylines played out throughout the drama. It will also feature showcase performances from the cast, who will sing, dance and act their hearts out for a specially invited studio audience.