Sky Announces Major New Commitment to Original British Drama

Jan 17, 2013, 07:29 ET from Sky

LONDON, January 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Sky today steps up its commitment to original British drama with the announcement of a world-class line up of brand new, original drama, featuring stars including Dominic Cooper, Vanessa Redgrave, David Harewood and Kylie Minogue. The diverse slate - the biggest in Sky's history - includes a drama based on the life of Ian Fleming, a season of films from acclaimed female screenwriters and the directorial debuts of actors Idris Elba, Matt Smith and Marc Warren.

Running across Sky's portfolio of entertainment channels, and available on HDTV and VOD, the raft of new drama commissions, complemented by popular returning series, is part of Sky's drive to bring more high-quality, exclusive programmes to customers. It is supported by Sky's commitment to invest £600 million a year in home-grown programming by 2014, an increase of 50% over three years.

Delivering customers some of the most highly respected drama talent working in television today, both on and off screen, the new commissions include:

• Fleming (Sky Atlantic), starring Hollywood actor Dominic Cooper in the lead role in a series based on the life of Bond creator Ian Fleming

• The Reckless Season (Sky Living), a season of five original dramas from some of Britain's most renowned and critically-acclaimed female screenwriters, including Sally Wainwright, Gwyneth Hughes and Annie Griffin

• The return of Playhouse Presents (Sky Arts) this year features the directorial debuts of Idris Elba, Matt Smith and Marc Warren, with Elba and Warren both also scripting their films. The season of dramas - which will be complemented by a further collection of one-off comedy films - has again attracted high-calibre casts including Kylie Minogue, Mat Horne, David Harewood, Anna Friel and Vanessa Redgrave.

• Mad Dogs The Finale (Sky 1), a two-part conclusion to the BAFTA-nominated drama starring Max Beesley, Philip Glenister, John Simm and Marc Warren

In addition, a brand new medical drama from Jed Mercurio, under the working title Critical is currently in development for Sky 1.

These new titles join the previously announced series:

• Moonfleet (Sky 1), a two-part family drama adaptation by Ashley Pharaoh (Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes) of the classic John Meade Falkner story

• The Smoke (Sky 1), created by Lucy Kirkwood (Skins), following the adrenaline fuelled and gut-wrenchingly emotional stories of the White Watch crew of a London fire station.

• Strike Back (Sky 1) starring Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton, returns for a fourth series later this year.

• The Tunnel (Sky Atlantic). Ben Richards (Spooks, Party Animals) heads up the writing team   based on the format of The Bridge and set against the backdrop of Europe in crisis.

• Dracula (Sky Living) based on a script from Cole Haddon, the series stars Jonathan Rhys Myers and begins filming this summer.

The slate was commissioned by Sky's Head of Drama, Anne Mensah.  She comments: "At Sky we have a strong ambition to deliver modern, original dramas that are both entertaining and intelligent. We seek to bring our customers the most innovative and bold pieces produced by some of the brightest talent in drama programming today. Our broad range of entertainment channels has allowed us to commission this diverse and rich drama slate, providing customers with a wealth of choice and I'm thrilled to be able to unveil this fantastic line up.  The most exciting thing is that this is just the part of the growing drama story at Sky."

Stuart Murphy, Director, Entertainment Channels adds: "We're absolutely delighted to be announcing such a strong group  of dramas for our customers. These new commissions bring together world-class talent, both on and off screen, and are unique pieces of television that exemplify the scale of our ambition. I am excited and fully supportive of Anne Mensah's vision as she drives forward a strategy that will deliver our customers the highest-quality programming."

Sky's drama team consists of Anne Mensah, Head of Drama; Huw Kennair-Jones, Commissioning Editor, Drama; Madonna Baptiste, Commissioning Editor, Drama; Beverly Booker, Head of Development, Drama; Nicola Larder, Drama Development Executive and Daniel Walker, Development Co-Ordinator.




Joining Sky 1's existing dramas such as Strike Back which will return for a fourth series (10 x 60', A Sky and Cinemax/HBO co-production from Left Bank Pictures), and brand new  programmes such as MoonFleet (2 x 60', Company Pictures) and The Smoke (8 x 60', Kudos), comes a further series:

*Mad Dogs The Finale (2 x 60', Left Bank Pictures) - written by Cris Cole. Having launched in 2011 and captivated Sky customers ever since, a thrilling two-part conclusion to the story of the four hapless holidaymakers has now been greenlit. Max Beesley, Philip Glenister, John Simm and Marc Warren reunite to film the fourth and final instalment in the story this February and Sky 1 HD viewers can catch the third series of Mad Dogs this Spring.


Following on from the channel's first original drama successes; Red Productions' Hit & Miss and Mammoth Screen's Falcon and adding to the recently announced The Tunnel (a 10 x 60' co-production with Canal+) Sky is pleased to announce today:

*Fleming (4 x 60', Ecosse Films) - Hollywood actor Dominic Cooper will take up the lead role in this new series based on the life of Bond creator Ian Fleming. Since Casino Royale was published in 1953, the world has been fascinated with James Bond.  This four part series will take a no holds barred look at Ian Fleming, the man behind the James Bond legend, whose real life was as exciting, eventful and sexually charged as his famous creation.


Sky Living's previously announced Dracula (10 x 60'), a Sky and NBC co-production from Playground Entertainment) starring Jonathan Rhys Myers begins filming this summer. This will be followed with The Reckless Season, which will bring together some of Britain's most renowned and critically-acclaimed female screenwriters for a series of drama pilots. Three dramas are commissioned thus far with a further two to follow:

*Talking To The Dead (2 x 60', Bonafide Films) - written by Gwyneth Hughes (The Girl, Five Days).
This two parter tells the story of Fiona, a newly qualified detective on her first murder case. Adapted from the Harry Bingham book, this rookie heroine may be set to find out that enthusiasm can prove deadly.

*Reubenesque (1 x 60', a Kudos and Pirate co-production). Written and directed by Annie Griffin (Fresh Meat, The Book Group), Reubenesque  takes an unashamedly naked look at modern women with a story that centres on a female football referee's journey to becoming a plus size model.

*The Last Witch (1 x 60', Red Productions) - written by Sally Wainwright (Scott & Bailey)
This single drama tells the story of two five hundred year old witches battling it out in modern day Britain. When this powerful duo go to war, everyone else is simply collateral.


Following on from last spring's hugely successful season of plays, Sky Arts has confirmed a second season of Playhouse Presents featuring a plethora of British talent:

*Hey Diddly Dee (1 x 30', Sprout Pictures) - written and directed by Marc Warren (Mad Dogs) For every star that is born…one has to die. When the star of the show suffers a tragic accident who is to blame? The understudy? A faulty trap door? Or the theatre's lucky cat? This dark comedy drama stars Kylie Minogue, Mat Horne, Peter Serafinowicz, David Harewood, Paul Kaye and Lee Boardman

*Cargese (1 x 30', Sprout Pictures) - written by Simon Stephens (A Doll's House) and directed by Matt Smith (Doctor Who). This unique piece of poetic realism mines the tragic seam of adolescent love and loss.

*Mr Understood (1 x 30', Eleven Film) - created by Kate Hardie. A deeply personal, and comic, drama that follows young transvestite, Andrew, as he battles with self-doubt.

*Nightshift (1 x 30', Cajun Pictures and Company Pictures) - written by Jimmy Gardner.
Nightshift follows two coppers as they cruise the streets of South East London in the wee small hours discussing life, the universe and everything else amidst the surreal world of the night.

*The Pavement Psychologist (1 x 30', Sprout Pictures) - written and directed by Idris Elba.
The Pavement Psychologist is a taught and sexy drama about Jenny (Anna Friel, Limitless, Pushing Daisies), a woman in search of satisfaction, in a world of accounting.

*Union Square (1 x 30',  Sprout Pictures) - written and directed by Carlo Nero, based on a short story by Leonard B. Francavilla. A disturbance at Union Square leads to some strange encounters for two policemen in this funny and poignant portrait of loneliness in the city. Starring Vanessa Redgrave, Stephen Graham, Samantha Bond and Sushil Chudasama.

These five original dramas will be joined by a raft of new comedies completing this year's Playhouse Presents strand.

About Sky

Sky is the UK and Ireland's leading home entertainment and communications company.  Around 40% of all homes have a direct relationship with Sky through its range of TV, broadband and home telephony services. 

Sky is the UK's biggest investor in television content, investing more than £2.3 billion a year in channels such as Sky 1, Sky Atlantic, Sky Living, Sky Arts, Sky Sports, Sky Movies and Sky News.   Around two-thirds of Sky's content spend is invested in the UK and Sky is the fastest-growing source of investment in original British programmes.  More than 30 million people watch Sky content each week.

Alongside its commitment to offering customers a greater choice of high-quality content, Sky is a leading innovator.  Customers enjoy total control and flexibility over their favourite TV through Sky+, watch TV on the move through Sky Go, and enjoy the best quality TV experience at home through High Definition and 3D.  

Sky distributes its content broadly over several platforms, including satellite, cable, IPTV, mobile and WiFi.  NOW TV, Sky's second consumer brand, builds on the company's leadership in internet TV.  Sky is also the UK's fastest-growing home communications company and favourite 'triple-play' provider of TV, broadband and home phone. 

Sky believes in making a wider contribution to the communities in which it operates by taking positive action on the environment, supporting grassroots sports and increasing access to, and participation in, the arts.  Sky employs 23,000 people, has annual revenues of £6.8 billion and is estimated to support a £5.4 billion contribution to UK GDP.  Sky is listed on the London Stock Exchange (BSY).