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Xbox Entertainment Studios, U.K.’s Channel 4 Partner on ‘Humans’

Kudos to produce eight-episode original drama series for 2015

CANNES — Xbox Entertainment Studios and U.K.’s Channel 4 have inked a co-production deal for drama series “Humans,” based on the Swedish sci-fi drama “Real Humans.” Distribution will be handled by Shine Intl.

The series, which will comprise eight hour-long episodes, will be produced by Kudos (“The Hour,” “Utopia,” “Broadchurch,” “The Tunnel”). Channel 4 in the U.K. and the Xbox platform in North America will share a 2015 premiere broadcast window.

“Humans” is an English-language adaptation of Sveriges Television (SVT) and Matador Films’ series, which will be penned by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley (“Spooks,” a.k.a. “MI-5”).

Show is set in a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a “Synth” — a highly-developed robotic servant that’s so similar to a real human it’s transforming the way people live. When a rushed-off-his-feet suburban father of three buys a refurbished second-hand Synth, he hopes it will relieve some domestic pressure, and paper over the cracks of his marriage. But sharing their life with a machine has far-reaching and chilling consequences — for this Synth, the cuckoo in the nest, is harboring a secret.

Filming in the U.K. will begin in summer 2014, with casting to be announced.

Exec producers are Jane Featherstone (“Broadchurch,” “Utopia,” “The Hour”) and Derek Wax (“The Hour,” “Occupation,” “Lip Service”) for Kudos, and Henrik Widman and Lars Lundstrom for Matador Films, and Chris Fry (“The Smoke”) is to produce.

Nancy Tellem, president of Microsoft’s Xbox Entertainment Studios, said: ” ‘Humans’ not only questions personal relationships, but we loved how this sci-fi show toys with reality and our connection to technology.”

She adds: “This deal with Channel 4 and Kudos underscores Xbox Entertainment Studios’ commitment to programming premium TV series with global partners, and creating engaging interactive experiences — and sits alongside other original commissions including a Halo TV series executive produced by Steven Spielberg.”

Channel 4 head of drama, Piers Wenger, said: “In ‘Humans,’ Sam and Jon have not only crafted an ingenious and imaginative thriller, but they’re also asking big, thought-provoking questions about how we live. I’m thrilled to be working once again with the team at Kudos and to be partnering with Xbox to bring this extraordinary and epic series to the screen. This is the first co-production commission to benefit from Channel 4’s increased investment in drama and reaffirms our commitment to ambitious, highly original drama series.”

Featherstone said: “Exploring themes of love, discrimination and integration, this thrilling, beautifully written series allows us to get under the skin of what it means to be human in the most compelling way. The bold, innovative storylines and subject matter lend themselves perfectly to this pioneering collaboration with Channel 4 and Xbox.”

Commissioned for Channel 4 by Wenger and Beth Willis, and for Xbox Entertainment Studios by Tellem, the deal was brokered by Dan Isaacs, COO of Kudos, Ben McLean, SVP of business affairs for Xbox Entertainment Studios, Channel 4’s director of commercial affairs Martin Baker, and by Matt Vassello and Gordon Synn on behalf of Shine Intl.

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