‘Occupation’ to hit BBC America

Cabler hopes to extend 'Torchwood's momentum

Fresh off the success of “Torchwood: Children of Earth,” BBC America announced it will air fellow miniseries “Occupation” in October.

Cabler will also bow comedy “The InBetweeners” from Damon Beelsey (“Flight of the Conchords”) and Iain Morris (“Peep Show”) in the fall.

Last week’s airing of the five-part “Torchwood” boosted BBC America to its highest weekly ratings in its history, according to BBC Worldwide America prexy Garth Ancier, who also noted that ad revenues for the network in its most recent fiscal year showed a 31% increase.

BBC America will attempt to extend that momentum with “Occupation,” a three-part effort focusing on the return of three British soldiers to Iraq in 2003. James Nesbitt, Stephen Graham and Warren Brown star, Nick Murphy directed and Peter Bowker (“Viva Blackpool”) scripted.

“Nick comes from a documentary background, and I think that really helped,” Bowker said at Wednesday’s Television Critics Assn. panel for BBC America.

“InBetweeners” is a teenage comedy focusing on the adjustment of the new kid in school, played by Simon Bird. Morris cited “American Pie,” “Animal House,” “Swingers,” and “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” as influences.

“There’s (also) sort of an homage to the last episode of ‘Freaks and Geeks,’ which means there’s a joke we stole whole-heartedly,” Morris quipped – not realizing the irony of mentioning the show in front of Ancier, who presided at NBC when “Freaks” was canceled.

Ancier noted that “InBetweeners” was something of an exception to the preponderance of sci-fi and fantasy shows (such as “Torchwood” and recent BBC America series premiere “Being Human”) that the network typically imports.

“Those tend to travel better than shows that are a reflection of people living their lives in the U.K., because they live fundamentally different lives.” Ancier said.

Ancier also said that BBC America is trying to reduce the lag time on how quickly shows move to its airwaves from the U.K.

“We’re trying to do close to day and date on everything,” he said.

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