TV Crush

BBC America to Revamp News; Coupling/Jekyll Scribe Moffat Slags NBC

7/14/2007 2:34 PM

Garth Ancier, the fresh prez of BBC America, announced that the BBCA 7p news feed of BBC World will soon be replaced by what he called a "special U.S-facing, hour-long newscast " provided by BCC World.

Ancier noted that BBCnews.com and BBC.com are "together the 5th largest website source of news" in the U.S.

“It’s kind of extraordinary when you realize it’s based in London,” mused Ancier, “so looking at this from a news background standpoint, having come from CNN, I thought this was a huge asset.” Ancier said he wanted to raise the profile of BBC news in the U.S. but provided no further details.

With the formal announcements out of the way, Ancier turned his attention to the panels which he anchored in a living room-like setting on stage. TCA panels can be stiff and overly rehearsed. Not so with the sometimes raucous BBCA sessions which showcased three, new upcoming series - Jekyll, a modern day Jekyll & Hyde story with an X-Files twist; Torchwood, the Dr. Who spin-off based on the popular Captain Jack character; and Hotel Babylon, a series set in an ultra-chic hotel.

The Brits proved to be far more willing than their publicist-leashed American counterparts to give straightforward answers and to engage in the occasional potty humor.

Coupling creator and Jekyll writer, Steven Moffat, described the Jekyll character as a man who can “f*ck anyone or do anything … he’s going to be in a quite a good mood, isn’t he? I would be if I had superpowers and ability to f*uck everyone and actual fangs that come out occasionally. It’s brilliant !… anyway, enough of my personal fantasies.”

When asked if he had any hesitation about casting Coupling’s Gina Bellman in her role on Jekyll, Moffat deadpanned, “yeah, I was totally against the bitch….”

A follow up question about why the American version of Coupling tanked triggered this delicious rant. “I so enjoy answering that question,” declared Moffat, then taking a breath, “All right…I can answer with three letters: N. B. C. Very, very good writing team. Very, very good cast. The network f*cked it up because they intervened endlessly. If you really want a job to work, don’t get Jeff Zucker’s team to come help you with it … because they’re not funny. All right!? There you go.”

The critics delighted in the bracing splash of candor, delivered with wit and considerable charm. When the laughter died down Moffat continued, “I can say that, because I don’t care about working for NBC. But I think I’m entitled to say that because I think the way in which NBC slagged off the creative team on American Coupling after its failure was disgraceful and traitorous. So I enjoy slagging them off!”

“And that’s the end of my career in L.A.,” he announced, apparently not particularly saddened, “I’ll be leaving shortly.”

“Taxi for Moffat!” called-out James Nesbitt, the star of Jekyll who sat to his immediate right.

September