Media Medium
22 August 2001


In a league of his own

David Liddiment's horoscope suggests his Saturday soccer-fest could
turn into a programming nightmare capable of giving him sleepless
nights until next September

The MacTaggart Lecture gives David Liddiment, ITV's director of programming, the opportunity to set out his vision for television in general and ITV in particular. It coincides remarkably with one of the biggest planetary movements ever to happen in his horoscope, the Sun's progressed opposition to expansive Jupiter, and it is a landmark moment of his TV career.

As a nervy Virgo (September 20 1952), such a big occasion could bring out fumbles and mumbles, but it's content that matters. Liddiment is the model of hard-working, perfectionist Virgo - conscientious, skillful, clever and quick-witted - so it's no wonder his working life in TV scheduling has been a love affair with the Year Planner.

With four planets, including the Moon, in the persuasive Libran Scales, he can put forward a reasonable case for almost anything but getting the balance right is vital. His Libran side thrives on partnerships and his planning can go wonky if he goes it alone, so he always needs a close buddy to bounce ideas off.

All-in-all, this unassuming Virgo is definitely not cutting edge. His edges are smooth and rounded, but he does have big ideas and a master plan to reshape the whole public viewing experience. Because of this, he is fearless when he needs to get rid of dead wood and capable of a high risk strategy, as with his huge gamble in scheduling Match Of The Day at prime time on Saturday evening. Here we get to see Liddiment's adventurous Mars in fiery Sagittarius. This currently has nuclear Pluto crossing over it, symbolising a serious danger of bombing out. The Saturday soccer- fest could turn into one of his worst programming nightmares, and it won't give him much sleep until Pluto's influence is over in September 2002. It's unlikely that 7pm on Saturday will be MODT's final slot, and this December and next May could see desperate readjustments. However it finally shapes up, Liddiment has broken the mould and ultimately, he'll deserve the credit for a much- needed transformation of Saturday night TV.

So although he comes to MacTaggart with ITV on a ratings slide and his latest experiment looking rocky, with optimistic Jupiter emphasised, we can expect a very positive outlook. Jupiter is an ethical planet, too, and in money-minded Taurus it suggests nurturing civil values in a commercial media context. It is also rudely and crudely about big money, and it would be no surprise if Liddiment evokes Who Wants To Be A Millionaire as a model for popular television. In fact, finance always figures big in Liddiment's grand plans, and on a personal level, despite his modest Virgo, this is a man who likes a big wodge. As astrologer Debbie Kempton-Smith tells him, " Money cheers you up. You hate to think of yourself as a materialist because generally you have higher values than the camel-hair coat brigade, but when the loot rolls in, you love to count it."

At his lecture, listen-up for themes of Jupiter in Taurus, with gardening metaphors of sowing and reaping, blooming and pruning. These could come with his views on the "ecology of the TV networks", the way in which the bodies and channels, each with their own unique style and ethos, work together to support and balance each other. As any gardener knows, things take time, and his horoscope shows that the Jupiter influence starting now reaches fruition in summer 2006. Forget the monthly schedules - this man is on a Five-Year Planner.

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