Taggart's returning to our screens … but it could be shown on BBC

A NEW series of Taggart, one of Scottish Television's flagship dramas, could be aired on the BBC or a satellite channel should ITV decide not to recommission the gritty crime series.

STV has vowed to make more episodes of the detective series next year even if it is not picked up across the UK network.

The broadcaster, which is central Scotland's ITV franchise, said that, should such a scenario unfold, it would "enter discussions with other partners".

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It means the internationally renowned show could be screened on a Sky channel, or even the BBC.

Under its existing deal, ITV will show four more episodes of Taggart. The 100th is due to be broadcast on 7 December.

While STV said negotiations are ongoing with ITV regarding the show being recommissioned for 2010, no deal has been struck. The exact number of new episodes for the new series has yet to be decided.

STV's pledge to continue producing the show comes as its relations with ITV are at an all-time low after ITV issued 38 million legal proceedings to recover what it believes to be unpaid bills for the making of network programmes such as The Bill, which STV then decided to opt out of screening in favour of home-grown shows. STV, in turn, is counter-suing for what it claims to be unpaid advertising revenue.

In a statement, released alongside an interim management statement to the Stock Exchange, STV said the failure to secure a new commission for the hit programme had already cost the firm 2m. "We remain in discussions with ITV Network on securing a commission or co-commission for Taggart. In the event that ITV does not recommission Taggart, we can confirm that STV will make Taggart for delivery in 2010," it said.

It is understood that, should ITV fail to commission new Taggart shows, STV is open to "different possibilities of working in a partnership".

A spokeswoman said it would not be appropriate to identify any possible partners but both Sky and the BBC are possible contenders.

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Earlier this year STV entered a "partnership agreement" with BBC Scotland that will see both broadcasters consider ways of sharing pictures, facilities, training, technology and archive programmes. Co-productions and potential joint rights bids were also cited as possibilities when the partnership was announced in June.

If Taggart is shown on a satellite channel, it would not be a first for STV. The broadcaster has recently made co-productions such as The Sinking of the Royal Oak, ironically narrated by Taggart star Alex Norton.

The show, made with the History Channel, was first screened on STV, before being shown on the History Channel the following evening.

Taggart is the longest-running police series in Britain and first aired in 1983 starring Mark McManus in the title role until his death in 1994.

Based in Glasgow's Maryhill area, the popular show, synonymous with the catchphrase "There's been a murder", now has an international following and is translated into many languages. including German, French and Japanese.

Several major names in Scottish film and television have appeared on the show, including Robert Carlyle, Alan Cumming, Dougray Scott and Ken Stott.