Soccer soap 'Dream Team' launches tonight on Star Sports

MUMBAI / NEW DELHI: "The Ball'ed and the Beautiful". That would be an apt tag line for the latest (and surprisingly unheralded) programming initiative from Star Sports. Launching today at 9:30 pm is a prime time daily soap - Dream Team.

The sexy soccer soap, which follows the fortunes of fictional professional football club Harchester United and its Dream Team airs Tuesdays to Friday.

Harchester United is a premiership team based in the Midlands in the UK and follows the football fortunes and the off-field activities of the players as well as the club bosses. The series airs on Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB platform in the UK on the Sky One network where it is into its sixth season. It has also enjoyed popular success in the US, an official release says.

The Harchester United Football Club even has a history - complete with a mascot - 'Dragons'!

What the series also boasts is a high "babe quotient". Cast members like Angela Saunders and Nina Muschallik would have fitted in well in Baywatch. If MAX used Mandira Bedi and Charu Sharma's "angels" to pump up the volume during the World Cup, Star Sports has opted for a full soap series, albeit about football.

Saunders, Rachel Brady, Emma Harding, Jane Campbell, Scott Mean, Dhaffer LAbidine, Chucky Venice, Terence Maynard, Jim Alexander, Muschallik, Louis Decosta Johnson, Neil Jackson, Ray MacAllan, Shaun Scott and Ricky Whittle, are the stars of this daily soap.

Another hook that the series often uses is getting celebrities for walk-on roles. Busty model Jordan was one of the more talked about recent guests on the show, appearing in her first ever cameo role. Other celebrities who have appeared in Dream Team include Tara-Palmer Tompkinson, Gary Lucy, Matt Le Tissier, John Barnes, 'Big Ron' Atkinson and Dwight Yorke.

"We are looking at the issue of having entertainment-based programmes related and based on sports on the two channels, including those generated in India," Manu Sawhney, MD, ESPN Software told today over phone from Dhaka where he has gone on an official trip.

Guest actor and glam model Jordan

It may be remembered that had reported last year that ESPN is mulling foraying into entertainment-related programming.

Similar programmes would surface on ESPN too, Sawhney says.

ESPN-Star Sports, a joint venture between ESPN (part of the Disney group) and Star Sports (part of News Corporation), has also sounded out some Indian producers on the issue and whether sports-based soaps and entertainment programmes can be generated from India.

"We are examining the issue whether we can do it in-house or such assignments have to be farmed out to other TV producers as we are definitely looking at such programmes made out of India," Sawhney said.

Will the viewers play ball. This certainly seems like jock territory so that section of the audience seems a cinch.

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