Denise Van Outen to front Channel 5’s OK! TV magazine

The Big Breakfast star is named as a host on the news magazine show

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Effervescent Essex girl Denise Van Outen has been named as the female host for Channel 5’s new teatime entertainment news magazine show OK! TV, due to launch on 14 February as part of the station’s revamp.

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Thirty-six-year-old Van Outen, who made her name on Channel 4’s “yoof”-orientated The Big Breakfast in the late 1990s, will be joined on the new programme by co-host Matt Johnson, 27, a familiar face to regular This Morning viewers.

OK! TV will replace the network’s much-maligned Live from Studio Five that began in September 2009 as “an early-evening news and entertainment show with a difference”.

Unfortunately for Channel 5, the Sky News-produced format proved a ratings disaster, and audiences halved to around 200,000 viewers in its first few months on screen.

Several attempts to reinvigorate the show, including reshuffling the presenters, reducing the transmission time – and latterly shooting the show’s female presenters from ankle height in soft focus – have failed to attract much new interest in the format.

The arrival of OK! TV represents the first major attempt at brand cross-promotion on the channel by Richard Desmond since his Northern & Shell company purchased Channel 5 for £103m last summer.

Desmond, who owns OK! Magazine, as well as publications such as the Daily Star (perhaps that’s why Fiver is being renamed 5*) and the Express, is expected to use his media portfolio to heavily promote the new show in the coming weeks and is understood to be actively seeking further such opportunities with new programming.

One such tie-in could be the acquisition of tabloid darling Big Brother, which Channel 5 is believed to be in the final stages of negotiating a deal with Endemol to screen later this year after the reality format ended a decade association with Channel 4.

As well as the introduction of OK! TV, the Valentine’s Day revamp of Channel 5 will include the first appearance of newly signed newsreaders Emma Crosby and Matt Barbet, a Gadget Show Special from the Manchester Museum of Science, and Steven Seagal v Justin Lee Collins.

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…wow, the times they really are a-changing, it seems.