Part of a significant increase in its programming budget, BBC America will roll out a dozen co-productions and acquisitions across a number of genres, including telefilms, miniseries, comedies and dramas, over the balance of 2005 and into 2006.
With the channel’s programming budget expected to double over the next two years, general manager Kathryn Mitchell said BBC America will gauge audience reaction to these various entries and then decide to focus more on particular genres, or maintain a wide programming swath.
“We have funding in reserve for acquisitions if we want to go after a type of programming that clicks,” she said, noting that BBC America will continue to invest in co-productions (six of the new shows are co-produced), because “they give us more creative control.”
With BBC America’s audience composition divided between the genders, Mitchell does have her eye out for a women’s drama. Mitchell, who joined BBC America from Comedy Central in January, said the network also has interest in comedy, but hedged her enthusiasm somewhat.
While pointing to the success of imports like The Office, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and the Benny Hill Show, she noted that colloquialisms don’t necessarily travel well across the pond.
Working with the BBC Drama, BBC America will present six one-hour installments of Viva Blackpool, a love story, thriller and musical all rolled into against the faded glamour of Britain’s most famous seaside town. The show bows Stateside on Oct. 23 at 10 p.m
The Robinsons follows an ordinary and successful family that lives in Wimbledon, save for Ed (Martin Freeman of The Office.) Plans call for this co-production with the BBC to bow here on the fourth quarter.
Another six-parter, Bodies, from Hat Trick Productions, is an uncompromising hospital drama, which executives are calling The Shield of the genre. It is also slated to premiere in the U.S. on Sept. 29 at 9 p.m..
Also on the acquisition side is Teachers, BBC America’s version of the former Fox series Boston Public, which follows the lives, loves and timetables of a group of hapless educators. This Tiger Aspect production will premiere here in the third quarter.