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Marketplace for North goods.

Byline: By Sam Wonfor Arts And Entertainment Correspondent

An innovative blend of entertainment and shopping for a "captive" television audience is launched on the small screen this weekend by a Wearside company.

Captive TV is the brainchild of Steve Powell, the founder of the Eleven PM design agency in Sunderland.

He decided there was a gap in the market for a home shopping programme which provided more than just products and prices.

Mr Powell promises a wide range of entertainment, including music, lifestyle strands, fashion items, cooking and comedy - as well as a selection of hand-picked products which won't fall into the stereotypical categories often associated with home shopping channels.

This Sunday, the first three-hour live broadcasts will be beamed to viewers of satellite channel 238, otherwise known as Ben TV, and it will be repeated on a number of other satellite channels, including the popular Living and Showcase platforms.

Yesterday, Steve, who was in the throes of building the programme's studio set, said: "It's all a bit hectic today but we're really pleased with the way things are going.

"From our first concept to realisation we knew we had found a real niche market.

"This is going to be unlike anything which has been done before.

"There will be such a range of entertaining content shown in a relaxed atmosphere, as well as having a catalogue of products to introduce to the viewers.

"These aren't going to be the kinds of things people are used to seeing on home shopping channels.

"We want to have new and unusual things on offer and only sell the stuff we really believe in."

One of the main presenters on the show will be 28-year-old Australian Jodie McMullen, who has children's presenting and acting already on her CV and is looking forward to her first appearance on Captive TV.

She said: "I am thrilled to be involved in such an exciting venture.

"The show will have an entertainment focus and products will be featured in a fresh new way.

"I also think audience participation will be of prime importance and, where possible, viewers will be given the opportunity to test and review products for themselves."

Although the show will initially be broadcast from a studio in London, Mr Powell, who remains based in Sunderland, said he was hoping that in time, production could move to the North-East. He said: "Ultimately, we are looking to film the show in the North-East and there are even plans to have our own channel.

"We are also really hoping to raise the profiles of the region's businesses and hope to include a lot of their products on the programme.

"We know we will have to take time to build the profile of the programme, but people seem to be very excited by the idea and we will be trying to include something to entertain everyone to make it a success."

* Captive TV will have its first airing at 6pm on Sunday, on Ben TV, channel 238 for Sky digital viewers.
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Title Annotation:Ents On the box
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 18, 2003
Words:503
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