You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

BBC America Developing Projects With Amy Poehler, ‘Orphan Black’ Producers (EXCLUSIVE)

BBC America is in the midst of its first big development push under the leadership of president and general manager Sarah Barnett, who took the reins of the cabler early last year.

Projects in the works include dramas from the producers behind “Orphan Black,” Amy Poehler’s production banner and “Happy Valley” producer Red.

This month, BBCA began production on the first original scripted series to be greenlit by the new regime, an adaptation of Douglas Adams’ 1987 novel “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.” That show is set for debut Oct. 22, part of a wave of new series arriving on the channel in the second half of the year.

Barnett and her team did a fair amount of research to wrap their minds around the challenge of expanding BBC America’s brand. “We spent a lot of time thinking about what the ‘A’ stood for in BBCA,” she says.

What struck Barnett most about the revamp process was how different it was from her early experience at SundanceTV just six years before. Back then, the team didn’t have to take into major consideration how viewers wanted to watch their shows. Not so this time around.

“There’s such a content boom and so many new players,” Barnett says. “Audience behavior is being driven by technology in all sorts of new ways. We had to think about what kind of content people are excited to consume on a linear platform and what they will no longer come for.”

The answer to the former, she believes, is a mixture of live and special events, and shows that might inspire what she calls “crazy love” among viewers — the kind of feelings viewers already have for the network’s “Doctor Who,” “Orphan Black,” and “Top Gear.” The “ingredients” of those shows helped inform the development focus, Barnett says.

Among the new prospects:

■ “Memoria,” a drama from writer Adam Barken and “Orphan Black” producer Temple Street Prods., about a man who begins to unravel after his memories conflict with those recalled by technology.

■ “Zero Motivation,” a comedic drama set among women in the Israeli army. Tami Sagher (“Girls,” “Inside Amy Schumer”) is writing for Amy Poehler’s Paper Kite banner is producing with Natasha Lyonne and Israeli filmmaker Talya Lavie. Elon Ratzkovsky and Brooke Posch also exec produce.

■ “Foreign Babes in Beijing,” a drama about the experiences of actress Rachel DeWoskin, who left New York to star in a Chinese soap opera. The show is produced by “Mad Men” alums Maria and Andre Jacquemetton with DeWoskin and Zayn Dorn. Dan Halstead also produces.

■ “Quatermass,” a remake of the Brit series about a professor and his daughter who investigate an alien invasion, written by Jeremy Dyson for “Happy Valley” producer Red. StudioCanal will handle international distribution.

■ “Trip,” written by Louise Fox, is a new spin on the Chinese novel “Monkey: Journey to the West.” See-Saw Films (“Top of the Lake”) is producing.

■ “Junk” is billed as a satirical look at the soda and junk food industry. Dean Craig is writing with Neal Baer exec producing.

Among the new series rollouts, “The Hunt,” a David Attenborough docu series that looks at predators and prey in the wild, will help BBCA reclaim from Discovery Channel some of the BBC’s high-end natural history programming starting July 3. Period drama “Ripper Street” returns for season four on July 28. The six-hour limited series “Undercover,” a political thriller involving a high-ranking black public figure in Britain starring Sophie Okonedo, Adrian Lester and Dennis Haysbert, opens Nov. 17.

And BBCA is hoping to attract a big live crowd with a stunt featuring David Beckham. The soccer star will go on a worldwide trek in the 90-minute special “For the Love of the Game,” in which he’s challenged to play seven matches in seven continents and get back to the U.K. in time for an all-star charity game.

(Pictured: Sarah Barnett with “Top Gear” host Chris Evans)

More TV

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Accusers Detail Abuse, Reveal Evidence on 'Dateline'

    The continuing controversy surrounding R. Kelly, including allegations of sexual abuse by a number of women over three decades, was the focus of Friday’s episode of “Dateline.” Speaking to accusers Sparkle, Jerhonda Pace and parents Tim and Jonjelyn Savage, among others, NBC’s Andrea Canning heard more harrowing tales of abduction and sexual misconduct on the part [...]

  • Kenan Thompson

    NBC Orders Comedy Pilots 'Saving Kenan' and 'Like Magic'

    NBC has ordered comedies “Saving Kenan” and “Like Magic” to pilot. “Saving Kenan” is a single-camera comedy starring “Saturday Night Live” veteran Kenan Thompson as a “newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives.” Jackie Clarke will serve as writer and [...]

  • The First -- "The Choice" -

    'The First' Canceled at Hulu After One Season

    Hulu has grounded the space exploration drama “The First” after one season, Variety has confirmed. The series hailed from Beau Willimon and starred Sean Penn and Natascha McElhone in Penn’s first regular television role. “The First” was set in the near future and followed the first human mission to Mars. Hulu gave the show a straight-to-series order in [...]

  • Nicole Maines Supergirl Trans Hollywood Portrait

    TV Roundup: 'Supergirl' Drops First Look at Nicole Maines as TV's First Trans Superhero

    In today’s TV News Roundup, The CW releases a first look at Nicole Maines on “Supergirl” and Variety unveils an exclusive look at Gabriel Iglesias’ new comedy special.  FIRST LOOKS truTV has released the first trailer for season 2 of Emmy-nominated series “At Home with Amy Sedaris.” The variety sketch comedy returns Tuesday, Feb. 19 at [...]

  • The Beatles Eight Days a Week

    Imagine's Documentary Arm Sets First-Look Pact With Apple (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries has set a first-look pact with Apple to develop non-fiction features and series. The deal comes as Imagine is investing heavily in the premium non-fiction arena. The company in June recruited RadicalMedia veteran Justin Wilkes to head Imagine Documentaries as president. The deal suggests that Apple sees docu [...]

  • Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most

    Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most Outrageous Moments

    It is perhaps only fitting that two documentaries about the disastrous Fyre Festival, one of the most high-profile fraudulent failures in history, would arrive during the same week — a fitting cap on a tragicomedy of errors that, as both films outline in excruciating detail, unfolded like a slow-motion plane crash in the spring of [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Unveils Financial Data for DTC Unit, Sets April 11 for Investor Presentation

    Disney has rejiggered its business segments for earnings reporting to make room for the new unit housing its global streaming operations. Disney on Friday released restated earnings for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016 to give investors and financial analysts better visibility into its spending on the launch of the Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and other [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content