Global Market Data
Global News Journal
Pakistan: Now or Never?
Front Row Washington
The Great Debate
Personal Finance Video
Life & Culture
Djokovic still human but game is out of this world
Spoilers don't ruin stories or films?
Modern Etiquette: Taking manners to the yoga mat
Analysis: New depths loom for Tiger after PGA exit
Wyclef Jean offers new skills to quake-hit Haitians
Serena Williams captures Toronto Cup
Hilary Duff pregnant with first child
MuniLand: Jon Stewart dives into raterville
Video: Hip-Hop's top earners
Slideshow: Mr Elderly pageant
Pakistan let China see crashed U.S. "stealth" copter
14 Aug 2011
Google to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion
Markets heading to new danger zone: Zoellick
14 Aug 2011
Death toll rises in Indiana State Fair stage collapse
14 Aug 2011
Stop coddling the super-rich: Buffett
Obama says he inherited economic problems
Appeals court rules against Obama healthcare law
Most Americans believe U.S. on wrong track: Reuters/Ipsos poll
Sky-high cable car rescue.
Sun, Aug 14 2011
Underwater volcano erupts off Oregon coast
Wed, Aug 10 2011
Stage collapse kills four
Sat, Aug 13 2011
BBC America travels beyond "Doctor Who" for new hits
Michele Bachmann wins Iowa Republican test
Sat, Aug 13 2011
Texas Governor Rick Perry launches presidential bid
Sat, Aug 13 2011
Analysis & Opinion
Perry, Bachmann shine star power at Iowa dinner
GOP presidential debate fell short on ‘the vision thing’
By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES |
Mon Aug 15, 2011 8:33am EDT
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - If you thought BBC America was all about time-traveling doctors and men behaving badly in cars, get ready to adjust your TV set.
The cable network that introduced Americans to colorful British talent like Ricky Gervais, chef Gordon Ramsay and the car series "Top Gear" is making a big push into original programing in a bid to better compete with fast-growing U.S. channels.
Think "Mad Men", but with cut-glass British accents and a political thriller element, and you have "The Hour" -- a six episode new co-production beginning on August 17, that will launch BBC America's "Dramaville" block every Wednesday night.
Starring Dominic West of "The Wire", "Atonement" actress Romola Garai, and critically-acclaimed young Briton Ben Wishaw, "The Hour" is set in the fledgling world of investigative television news in 1956 London.
But "The Hour" is just a taste of things to come, says BBC America general manger Simon Perry.
Thirteen years after it was established in 1998, the cable channel has just announced its first original scripted drama
-- a series called "Copper" set in the immigration melting pot of 1860s New York and featuring a young Irish police officer. It will debut in the summer of 2012.
It has also given the go-ahead to two new reality series featuring BBC America favorites, talk show host Graham Norton and "Top Gear" presenter Richard Hammond, and the network has five other unscripted pilots in development.
"We have seen that signature original shows are how cable channels break through and create a bigger profile with audiences and the ad sales community and take channels to the next level," Perry told Reuters.
It's a strategy that has worked for many U.S. cable channels including AMC, which has reaped multiple Emmy wins and added millions more viewers since 2007 by developing dramas like "Mad Men", "Breaking Bad", "The Walking Dead" and "The Killing".
The changes have been more than a year in the making but they come as BBC America is coming off its best quarter yet. More than 1.3 million viewers tuned in to watch the 6th season premiere in April of classic British sci-fi series "Doctor Who", giving BBC America its biggest ever audience.
"Our ratings are up 30 percent this quarter over last year, advertising sales are up 40 percent, so there was never a better time than now to take the plunge," Perry said.
Perry declined to comment on costs, but Hollywood trade paper Variety has reported that the channel's programing budget has been tripled for the next five years. BBC America is owned by BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the publicly-funded BBC, and can be seen in 68 million U.S. homes.
The influx of new programing doesn't mean that BBC America will lose its uniquely British character, nor abandon its philosophy of presenting shows that are "intelligent, innovative and at times irreverent," Perry said.
Many of the shows in development build on familiar names, including "Top Gear" presenters Richard Hammond and James May, and comedy talk show host Graham Norton.
"We are trying to give the audience more of what they already love, and build from that strength," said Perry.
For all the comparisons that have been drawn by TV industry watchers between BBC America's "The Hour" and AMC's "Mad Men," producers say the drab world of post-war London depicted in their show has little in common in tone or character with the aspirational advertising men and women of 1960s New York.
As Abi Morgan, creator of "The Hour" told television journalists recently; "America was all great and big and shiny...and we were all held back by tea pots and rather bad plumbing. That's what we wanted to show."
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)
Entertainment News From the Wrap
Current TV's David Bohrman: Fox News Is the New Mainstream
The new president of the network says he was outed as a liberal by joining Current but that his politics did not affect his job while at CNN.
'Real Housewives Live Tour': See Them Gab at a Concert Venue Near You
But seeing the stars of Bravo's successful reality-show franchise will cost you
Dave Chappelle Tanked Florida Concert Because He Didn't Want a 'Reverse Kramer' Situation
The comedian explains why he shut down at a charity event in July
Google Buys Motorola Mobility for $12.5 Billion
The deal, for $40 per share in cash, is designed to "supercharge" Android
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Be the first to comment on reuters.com.
Add yours using the box above.
Social Stream (What's this?)
Back to top
New York Legal
Support & Contact
Advertise With Us
Connect with Reuters
Our Flagship financial information platform incorporating Reuters Insider
An ultra-low latency infrastructure for electric trading and data distribution
A connected approach to governance, risk and compliance
Our next generation legal research platform
Our global tax workstation
About Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.