NEW YORK — Scripted TV series about a Donald Trump wannabe in Blackpool, England, and a dysfunctional obstetrics staff at a British hospital highlight the slate of projects on the drawing board for BBC America.
The dozen TV shows and movies BBC America has committed to represents the first lineup under Kathryn Mitchell, who joined the network six months ago as general manager after a three-year stint as senior VP of programming for Comedy Central.
The new programs encompass both co-productions with the BBC and acquisitions from BBC and commercial production houses in England. Mitchell said not all of the deals were automatic slam-dunks for BBC America because “there’s a huge amount of competition for certain of these programs” from other cable networks in the U.S., including A&E, Bravo, Oxygen, WE: Women’s Entertainment, Comedy Central and new gay/lesbian channel Logo.
Even ABC got into the act when it preempted BBC America to buy hit BBC series “Strictly Come Dancing.” ABC’s adaptation, “Dancing With the Stars,” has become the biggest broadcast TV hit of the summer, and the Alphabet didn’t want its version competing with the original on BBC America.
“Viva Blackpool,” which won two Banff awards and is at the top of BBC America’s list, is a six-hour limited series written by Peter Bowker about an entrepreneur who tries to restore “the faded glamour of Britain’s most famous seaside town.”
‘Bodies’ in tow
Mitchell also talked up “Bodies,” six episodes set in a hospital buffeted by “ruthless politics, institutionalized cynicism, malpractice and pitch-black humor.” Scribe Jed Mercurio is a physician who wants to unearth the “gritty realities” of hospital drama.
Playwright Stephen Poliakoff has written two made-fors: “Friends & Crocodiles,” with Damian Lewis and Jodhi May, and “Gideon’s Daughter,” starring Bill Nighy and Miranda Richardson.
“Messiah: The Promise” is a two-part psychological thriller co-produced by BBC America, BBC Northern Ireland, Paramount Intl. TV and Messiah Three Films.
BBC America also is co-producing with the BBC two comedies, “Love Soup” (six one-hours) and “The Robinsons” (six half-hours).
Among the acquisitions are eight hourlong episode of “Teachers,” three half-hours of political satire “The Thick of It,” 10 hours of prison drama “Bad Girls,” a three-hour adaptation of Patrick Hamilton’s autobiographical novel “Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky” and a made-for period piece with Timothy Spall called “Mr. Harvey Lights a Candle.”