Starz Entertainment Teams With BBC To Develop, Produce One-Hour Dramas

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Starz Entertainment and BBC Worldwide Productions have entered a multiyear deal pact to develop and produce one-hour dramas.

Under the pact, the parties, which are already collaborating onTorchwood: Miracle Day, will co-develop series through Starz's original programming team and BBC Worldwide Productions. The shows will air in the U.S. on the programmer's premium networks, and be distributed to English-speaking Canada via Anchor Bay. BBC Worldwide will distribute the series internationally. Starz Digital Media also holds online rights to the series in those areas.

BBC Worldwide will distribute the series internationally.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The agreement will boost Starz's push toward adding more original series to a roster that also includes the upcoming Kelsey Grammer-starrer Boss, which is scheduled for Oct. 21. That will be followed by the latest installment of its Spartacus franchise, Vengeance in January and Magic City, the Mitch Glazer project about Miami circa 1959, which will debut next April.

Sister service Encore has also jumped into the original game with a just-premiered miniseries adaption of Moby Dick and the upcoming The Take.

"When I came to Starz, we determined that forging strong international partnerships would play center stage in financing our ramp-up of dynamic original programming," Chris Albrecht, chairman and CEO of Starz LLC, said in a release announcing the BBC relationship. "This exciting partnership with BBC Worldwide Productions is a major step in that direction. It will allow us to provide Starz subscribers more original programming, while delivering enhanced opportunity across all our domestic distribution businesses, including Anchor Bay and Starz Digital Media. Jane Tranter and the incredible teams at BBC Worldwide Productions and BBC Worldwide will be terrific partners, and we are very pleased to be able to extend our relationship with them through this venture."

Noted Tranter, head of BBC Worldwide Productions: "We're in a uniquely similar place to Starz. With Chris's arrival, Starz made a name in originals and is defining themselves as a true player in the U.S. premium cable territory. At BBC Worldwide Productions, we've hit our stride in the scripted business after starting these efforts just over two years ago. Working with Starz on Torchwood: Miracle Day has been a collaborative and invigorating journey. We're very much looking forward to bringing Starz' subscribers more of the programming they're coming to expect -- intelligent, groundbreaking, and honest storytelling, which is synonymous with our BBC roots and values."

BBC Worldwide Productions started its scripted efforts when Tranter, former controller of BBC Fiction, arrived to run the company in January 2009. Shortly thereafter, Julie Gardner, former head of drama, BBC Wales, joined as senior vice president of scripted, BBC Worldwide Productions and the two have worked on Doctor Who, Torchwood, LittleDorrit, Bleak House, Girl in a Café, Ashes to Ashes and State of Play.

Torchwood: Miracle Day is the first scripted series produced by BBC Worldwide Productions, currently in its first season on Starz. The company has more than 20 scripted projects in sold development with various cable and network partners, as well as 10 unscripted series currently in production.