New original series featuring Graham
Norton and Top Gear’s Richard Hammond — and the
network’s first original scripted drama series, Copper,
co-created by Oz’s Tom Fontana — have been given the
green light at BBC America, kicking off the network’s first
BBC Worldwide America Channels general manager
Perry Simon said BBCA’s original programming strategy is to
build its existing pipeline of United Kingdom-produced programming
to give it some more form and shape and support
that programming with own homegrown original content.
“We created franchises like our ‘Supernatural Saturday’
and ‘Ministry of Laughs’ blocks, and the dramas on
Wednesdays, to give more coherent packaging to the U.K.
product,” he said. “Part two of the strategy has been to develop
our own original programming so that we can maintain
the British connectivity that’s crucial to anything that we
put on, but do it with more of a focus on the U.S. audience.”
Simon said several original scripted projects are in the
works, beyond Copper, a 10 episode series about a young
Irish cop operating in the immigrant communities of 19th
century New York, headed to the network in summer 2012.
The investment in new originals comes with ratings on
the rise at the network: up 30% in primetime and a similar
gain in total day, year over year, in the second quarter.
Would You Rather With Graham Norton (13 30-minute episodes)
is a new original comedy game show that will premiere
later this year in the Saturday comedy block. Hard
Drive With Richard Hammond (six one-hour episodes), produced
by BBC Worldwide Productions and based on the BBC
format World’s Toughest Driving Tests, features Hammond
traveling the U.S. and competing with local experts tough
roads and extraordinary vehicles. Both are working titles.
In development are: a pilot with another Top Gear presenter,
James May’s Man Lab U.S; the pilot AUTO Biography
(working title), tracing a vehicle’s family tree while the vehicle
is restored and refurbished; and Battlemodo, a competition
show produced by True Entertainment in association
with Gawker Media and tech site Gizmodo.com.
The network also is developing a competitive food show,
No Kitchen Required, where chefs are dropped into remote
locations and challenged to create a meal for the local community.
It has also ordered a one-hour special/back-door
pilot titled Shock Therapy. Adapted from the BBC U.K. show
Fat & Fatter, it takes addicted young people and pairs them
with an extreme version of themselves in order to “shock”
them to change their lives and habits for the better.