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

  • Game of Thrones finale

    Six Things We Learned From 'Game of Thrones: The Last Watch' Documentary

    HBO gave fans a long parting look at the making of “Game of Thrones” on Sunday night in a two-hour documentary that focused on the Herculean efforts by the small army craft and technical experts who worked on the mammoth fantasy drama. “Game of Thrones: The Last Watch” introduced viewers to the leaders of the [...]

  • 'Killing Eve' Season 2 Failed Where

    'Killing Eve' Season 2 Stumbled Where 'Barry' Soared (Column)

    SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for the entire second seasons of “Killing Eve” and “Barry.”  I was dead certain that “Killing Eve” and “Barry” — two of my favorite television debuts of 2018 — should have ended after a single season. Both coincidentally starring unstable assassins, the shows were smart, propulsive, and extremely weird [...]

  • A.P. BIO -- "Melvin" Episode 208

    'AP Bio' Canceled After Two Seasons at NBC

    “AP Bio” has been canceled at NBC. Series creator Mike O’Brien shared the news with fans on Twitter, writing that “This has been my favorite project of my life.” In the single-camera comedy, Glenn Howerton portrayed a disgraced Harvard philosophy scholar who lost out on his dream job and was forced to return to Toledo, [...]

  • James Holzhauer $2 million

    'Jeopardy!' Champion James Holzhauer Hits $2 Million Winnings Milestone

    This current “Jeopardy!” player has just won over $2 million on the popular game show. Who is James Holzhauer? The 34 year old professional sports gambler from Las Vegas has hit a “Jeopardy!” milestone by becoming only the second person in the show’s history to win over $2 million in regular season play. Holzhauer won [...]

  • Kanye West Shares a Memory of

    Kanye West Shares a Touching Memory of His Mother in Letterman Interview

    In a preview of David Letterman’s interview with Kanye West, which begins streaming next Friday, May 31, the musician’s wife Kim Kardashian West, tweeted a clip of him sharing a touching memory of his mother, Donda, who died in 2007 after a surgical procedure. While his wife looks on smiling, West answers Letterman’s question about [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content