BBC America's New Executive Hire Signals Push for Original Programming

BBC's American division hires Rachel Smith as VP of Original Programming

Cable television has seen a Renaissance as of late, and the American arm of the BBC wants a slice of the pie. Perry Simon, The General Manager for BBC Worldwide America, Channels, division has hired veteran executive Rachel Smith to the network. Smith will take the newly-created post of Vice President of Original Programming.

It's easy to see why the BBC wants to expand its presence on cable. With the typically high-caliber original programming from premium channels HBO and Showtime, not to mention impressive offerings from the likes of AMC, FX and TNT, the American cable market is rife with possibilities for new viewership. BBC America has so far been content to rebroadcast popular content like Doctor Who and Top Gear from its mother network, along with reruns of UK-centric shows like The Tudors and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Creating the new Original Programming position and hiring an executive with producer experience is a clear indication of the BBC's intentions.

Says Simon:

Rachel’s appointment marks an important milestone for BBC AMERICA, as we move into the development of original programming for the channel. Our aim is to create a slate that speaks to an American audience with the same quality, intelligence, irreverence and innovation that you expect from the BBC. This is an exciting new era for BBC AMERICA, and Rachel will play a key role as we move forward.

But for those of you hoping for the next Mad Men or Justified, wait a tick. Rachel Smith's previous experience indicates that BBC America is interested in non-scripted reality TV for its original offerings. Smith's best-known work includes developing the original Real Housewives of Orange County and Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List for Bravo. She's lately been working for Discovery's Planet Green channel, on shows like Operation Wild and Dean of Invention. The native Australian has cut her teeth on the reality boom, and its unlikely that a shift in employer will result in a shift in developmental style. If Smith's resume is anything to go on, you can expect original reality TV from BBC America within a year or so.

What kind of shows can American audiences expect out of the anglophile network? The sky's the limit, but if non-scripted is their choice, bet on UK-themed shows with an American twist. New Oxford grads making their way in Manhattan. British ex-patriots playing for Major League Soccer. Expect similar fare to pop up in BBC America's primetime lineup in the next few seasons.

Source: Deadline Hollywood

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