UKTV has unveiled its new slate of original content for 2016 and 2017.
The fastest-growing broadcasting network in Britain, UKTV has seriously stepped up its commissioning arm in recent years, and has been repeating the benefits, both with live ratings and on-demand.
“A massive 73% of the British population now watch our channels every month, and what’s really exciting is that UKTV Originals – which are all made by the fantastic talent and producers here today – are an enormous part of that success,” said CEO Darren Childss, speaking at UKTV Live yesterday, its annual event where it announces its plans for the year ahead.
Amanda Holden, Sir David Attenborough, Lily Cole, Greg Davies and Craig Charles were all in attendance, with Charles about to return to Dave for the latest season of Red Dwarf, which returns on 22nd September. Red Dwarf, though, is just one of a growing number of successful commissions from Dave. Dave Gorman’s Modern Life Is Goodish and Celebrity Storage Hunters have all been renewed, while Taskmaster will return for a third season on Tuesday 4th October. The show was 2015’s most-watched on UKTV’s VOD service, UKTV Play.
The channel will be adding to its scripted comedy originals with Zapped, a new fantasy comedy from Baby Cow Productions, starring James Buckley (The Inbetweeners), Paul Kaye (Game of Thrones), Sharon Rooney (My Mad Fat Diary), Ken Collard (Cuckoo) and Louis Emetic (Benidorm) – plus a guest appearance from Steve Coogan, who will also executive produce the show. Buckley plays online data marketing assistant Brian Weaver who is unknowingly transported to a parallel world. The three-episode series will air this autumn.
Also new to the channel is weekly political comedy series Unspun With Matt Forde, produced by Avalon Television. Recorded the day before airing, the six-episode satirical programme hosted by Forde will feature reactions to the fast-changing news agenda and interviews with leading political figures.
The recently rebranded W, meanwhile, is adding to its roster with I’ve Got Something To Tell You, a six-part part series presented by Amanda Holden and produced by Zig Zag Productions. Filmed in an English country retreat, the series features ordinary people making extraordinary confessions over dinner, drinks or a simple cup of coffee. Watching from the sidelines, Amanda offers support as friends, partners and relations break life-changing news to loved ones before the cameras.
Dr Christian Will See You Now is an eight-part series from Firecracker Films, also on W, which will see the renowned doctor diagnose, counsel and treat patients who desperately need his help. Joniing them is Dancing for the Weekend, a documentary series produced by Electric Ray that dives into the lives of the surprising characters who moonlight as amateur dancers, and two fixed-rig documentary series: The Dressing Room, which invites viewers into the hidden world of dressing rooms across the country, and Inside The Ambulance, which uses cameras mounted on paramedics and inside their vehicles to get closer than ever before to the work of Britain’s frontline life-savers.
Hit US acquisitions Secrets and Lies and Code Black are also returning to W for brand new seasons.
UKTV’s comedy channel, Gold, will cement its recent move into original scripted content with the recommission of Marley’s Ghosts. Returning for more ghostly mayhem with an expanded six episode run, the series once again stars Sarah Alexander, John Hannah, Jo Joyner and Nicholas Burns for more misadventures with Marley and her three deceased companions.
Also new and original to the channel is a three-part documentary series exploring one of British cinema’s most powerful brands: Richard E. Grant on Ealing Comedies, produced by Phil MacIntyre Television, follows Grant as he tells the story of the studio during its comedy heyday and looks at the impact the modestly budgeted movies have had on British humour. He unearths never-before-seen footage and is joined by a host of famous faces, comedy heroes and iconic filmmakers including Peter Capaldi, Michael Palin, Eric Idle and Paul Whitehouse, all sharing their fond memories of Ealing Comedies.
Further highlights from UKTV’s network include a brand new series of David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities, the return of crime drama Quantico on Alibi; real life series Cops UK: Bodycam Squad and Helicopter ER on Really, plus epic sweeping historical drama The Red Tent on Drama, starring Minnie Driver and Rebecca Ferguson.
Photo: des willie/UKTV