BBC2’s new chief unveils lineup

Hadlow reaffirms faith in U.S. drama

LONDON — The new head of one of Blighty’s most influential terrestrial channels, BBC2, has reaffirmed the web’s commitment to buying high-end U.S. fare.

BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow, speaking Wednesday as she launched her first season since being appointed last year, said shows like HBO’s “The Wire” helped beef up the channel’s distinctiveness.

“We need to be very judicious about which U.S. shows we buy,” she said. “But series like ‘The Wire,” which frankly is a bit cool, help to give BBC2 its distinctive edge.

“With U.S. shows, it is important to get the right ones. When I bought ‘Mad Men’ for BBC 4 (Hadlow’s previous job was running BBC4) that was the right show.”

In the U.K., sci-fi hit “Heroes” generates big ratings for BBC2, which recently began screening the first of a five-series commitment to “The Wire.”

One of Hadlow’s first initiatives at BBC2, “The Wire” is stripped five nights a week in a post-11 p.m. slot and shown immediately after late-night local public affairs show “Newsnight.”

She said: “The great thing for us about ‘The Wire’ is that it gives our audiences something to wait up for after ‘Newsnight’ and opens up the schedule in an unexpected way.”

Featured in BBC2’s new spring and summer season are “Defying Gravity,” an action series set in space co-produced with Fox, Canada’s CTV and Germany’s ProSieben, and high concept laffer “Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire,” made in tandem with Comedy Central and starring Matt Lucas of “Little Britain” fame.

Also upcoming is what is thought to be the first U.K. sitcom filmed in Africa, news satire “Taking the Flak,” shot on location in Tanzania and Kenya.

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