Night And Day (ITV1, 2001-2003)
That’s the question that was asked by ITV when they launched an ambitious new daytime soap in 2001. Night And Day was set on a street in Greenwich which featured various families who all have their fair share of secrets. One day 16-year-old Jane disappears after having an affair with the much older Alex and the main part of the show is based around discovering what happened.
When Night And Day launched it was revealed that it would feature some established actors. They were Lysette Anthony, Glynis Barber, Gareth Hunt, Lesley Joseph, Joe McGann and Cathy Tyson. They would later be joined by Bradley Walsh, Shane Richie and Clarke Peters. There would also be a younger generation of actors who were making their TV debuts on the show and it was hoped that they would go on to bigger things. The theme music was “Always And Forever” by Kylie Minogue.
Night And Day was at first shown three times a week at 5pm, with a late-night hour long omnibus featuring some extra material which was shown at 10.20pm. Somewhat unsurprisingly, with its mix of mysterious characters and bizarre fantasy sequences, Night And Day was rejected by the mainstream daytime audience fairly quickly, with ratings slumping.
This meant that only a few months after ITV launched Night And Day it was cancelled. However, the production of the episodes was so far in advance that there was still a year’s worth left to be shown, so ITV continued showing only the omnibus edition, with the show getting later and later, with some episodes being burned off as late as 1am, and only gaining very small ratings.
This did mean though that the writers had an opportunity to tie up all the loose ends, with a bizarre even by its own standards final episode with some half-hearted “Jane died on the way back to her home planet”-style explanation of what exactly happened and the final scene being a montage of memorable moments set to Bjork’s “All Is Full Of Love”.
One of my favourite characters was Ryan Harper, Jane’s bereaved brother, played by Nick Schofield. He was very strange, vain and self-centered, he liked to talk to himself, and he had the most wonderful hair. I must admit he’s another of my unsung TV heroes.
Of the younger cast members only Stephanie Leonidas really went on to further success which was good as she was one of the best actresses in the show, and Stuart Manning turned up in a series of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, but for the rest of them it was a few bit parts in Hollyoaks and Holby City.
Night And Day eventually ran for 80 episodes and was a great attempt to add something different to the genre, but with its enigmatic storylines it was never going to be a huge success, but I thought it was great of course. And still no-one knows who Jane Harper is.