Even though American premium network Starz and the BBC have only one collaboration under their belts, the relationship between the two seems to be blossoming. Yesterday, the two television companies signed an agreement to bring multiple scripted dramas to their various audiences.
This follows generally a generally positive reception for Torchwood: Miracle Day, the fourth series of the popular Doctor Who spin-off. Starz contributed significant capital to the production costs for Torchwood in exchange for an exclusive US broadcasting license and at least some creative control.
There's no news on precisely when or what the new hour-long series (plural) will be, but like Miracle Day, BBC Worldwide Productions will handle the bulk of the production duties with assistance and input from the Starz Original Programming team. The deal is a win-win for pretty much all concerned: Starz gets a helping of the original content it craves, the BBC gets financial assistance to create shows that might normally be off limits to British productions, and audiences on both sides of the pond get to see programming they might otherwise have missed.
Head of BBC Worldwide Productions Jane Tranter had this to say about their partnership with Starz:
“We’re in a uniquely similar place to Starz. With Chris’s arrival, Starz made a name in originals and is defining themselves as a true player in the U.S. premium cable territory. At BBC Worldwide Productions, we’ve hit our stride in the scripted business after starting these efforts just over two years ago. Working with Starz on ‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’ has been a collaborative and invigorating journey. We’re very much looking forward to bringing Starz’ subscribers more of the programming they’re coming to expect – intelligent, groundbreaking, and honest storytelling, which is synonymous with our BBC roots and values.”
While no specific mention was made of a fifth Torchwood series, new episodes seem to be a foregone conclusion at this point. We know that creator Russell T. Davies isn't quite ready to start talking about the future of Torchwood, but new seasons definitely seem to be an when, not if, proposition.
The unnamed series in the press release are a bit of a mystery. Since production is still in the primary control of the BBC, anglophiles should be pleased that more high-concept British TV will make it onto our shores (if only for paying cable viewers). By contrast, BBC America is primarily a "bonus" content channel for the Beeb, where shows that have already been paid for can gain a little extra revenue.
At the same time, Starz will be solidifying its base in the ever-heated premium cable battle. While the channel is a distant third behind HBO and Showtime, its efforts so far have not gone unnoticed. Camelot was cancelled after its first season, but buzz for Spartacus: Vengeance is stronger than ever, and upcoming shows like Boss look promising.
Expect announcements on the fruit of this union in the next few months.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @MichaelCrider
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