×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Brits bump ‘Brothers’

WWII skein dropped from BBC1's sked, lands at BBC2

LONDON — Steven Spielberg’s World War II TV series “Band of Brothers” has been dropped from BBC1’s primetime fall sked — even though the pubcaster is reckoned to have coughed up a record £7 million ($10 million) for the skein.

Execs fear “Brothers” is not mainstream enough and have bumped it to sister channel BBC2, which gets audiences less than half the size of those for the BBC’s flagship channel.

The move, another sign of the BBC’s desire to maximize ratings, will raise further questions about why the pubcaster spent so much to acquire the 10-part series, eclipsing the £6 million it paid to license the movie “Titanic.”

A summer spat blew up in the British press after local war veterans, already irked about Hollywood rewriting war history, claimed the storyline gives the impression that Americans won the war by themselves.

The 10-part skein tells the story of Easy Company, part of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, showing the G.I.s playing key parts in the D-Day landings, the Battle of the Bulge and the capture of Hitler’s Bavarian fortress at Berchtesgaden.

Pic filmed in U.K.

Ironically, the production was filmed in Hertfordshire on the “Saving Private Ryan” set and stars little-known Brit thesp Damien Lewis as an American captain.

Critics also claim Prime Minister Tony Blair changed the tax laws to make it easier for foreign films to be classified as British, to lure HBO to film in the U.K. Reg means the company is eligible for tax breaks that allow it to write off production costs over three years.

Other critics have said the pubcaster would have been better off spending its cash on domestic fare rather than another Yank import.

Speaking at the launch of BBC1’s fall schedule Tuesday, BBC1 controller Lorraine Heggessey, who took charge of the channel a year ago, said a storyline about the exploits of the U.S. Army during WWII would not attract enough viewers to justify a place in primetime.

Quality drama

“It’s a fantastic, quality piece of drama,” she said. “It looks like a movie. But I don’t think it was broad enough for a mainstream audience.”

A BBC rep said HBO, which made “Brothers,” had been informed of the decision and had no problems with it.

BBC1 has become more blatantly commercial since Heggessey succeeded Peter Salmon, who was part of the team that bought the series from HBO Enterprises last fall.

Current affairs and arts programs have been moved from BBC1 to BBC2, and earlier this month BBC1 introduced a fourth weekly episode of popular soap “EastEnders.” Hit quizzer “Weakest Link” also arrived under Heggessey.

More TV

  • LIVE IN FRONT OF A STUDIO

    TV Review: ABC's Live 'All in the Family' and 'The Jeffersons'

    In retrospect, it was only a matter of time before reboot and revival fever manifested as verbatim repeats — but if TV’s gonna go there, bringing back eerily timely shows like “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons” is the way to do it. That Norman Lear’s comedies are timely, or at least prescient, is [...]

  • WGA Agents Packaging Fight Placeholder

    Judge in Writers Guild Suit Against Agencies Replaced Again

    Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elaine W. Mandel has replaced Craig D. Karlan to handle the Writers Guild of America’s lawsuit against Hollywood’s four major talent agencies. Mandel was appointed Wednesday. She is the third judge assigned to the case, which was filed April 17 by the WGA against CAA, WME, UTA and ICM Partners [...]

  • Andy Cohen Desperate Housewives E

    TV News Roundup: Bravo Announces First Ever BravoCon

    In today’s roundup, Bravo announces its first ever BravoCon and the trailer for the fourth season of “Queen Sugar” dropped.  DATES The buddy comedy “Partners in Wine,” starring Lauren White and Jasmine Curry, will be available for streaming on Amazon Tuesday, May 28. It follows best friends Mia and Anne, who support, challenge, and judge [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Agencies Offer to Restart Talks With WGA to End Packaging Fee Standoff

    Hollywood’s largest talent agencies have offered to restart negotiations with the WGA to end the standoff over the guild’s effort to impose new rules on talent agents. In a letter to WGA West president David Goodman sent Wednesday, UTA co-president Jay Sures extended an olive branch and suggested resuming talks next week. UTA later sent [...]

  • Martin Short

    Martin Short Joins Whitney Cummings, Lee Daniels Amazon Comedy Pilot 'Good People'

    The cast of the Amazon comedy pilot “Good People” continues to grow, with Martin Short becoming the latest big name star to sign on to the project. Short joins previously announced cast members Lisa Kudrow, Greg Kinnear, and Whitney Cummings. Cummings is also writing and executive producing the pilot with Lee Daniels. “Good People” centers [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content