Multichannel sector renews commitment to UK TV content

British children’s shows head latest wave of UK television commissions from multichannel broadcasters

Children’s live action programming, drama and factual shows headline a new wave of investment in UK programming from commercial broadcasters in the digital, cable and satellite television sector. The latest commissions see a major investment in homegrown children’s programming from a number of broadcasters, and a number of “firsts” as channels and producers move into new genres.
The latest developments include:
•    Sky has commissioned its first ever children’s programme as it expands its kids content. Commissioned from acclaimed Bristol-based animation studio Aardman Animations, Sky has invested in a new version of the classic British animation series, Morph.

•    Also in children’s, Nickelodeon has commissioned a major live-action kids drama series from UK production company, Buccaneer Media, and Canada’s Breakthrough Entertainment. Called Ride, the commission will shoot in Canada and Northern Ireland, and marks Buccaneer’s first move into children’s drama following its success with adult drama Marcella. Nickelodeon has also partnered with the Football League to produce another live action football show, Nick Kicks.

•    Following the success of its large-scale UK children’s drama commission, The Evermoor Chronicles, Disney has renewed its investment in the genre by commissioning a live-action British teen drama, titled The Lodge. Produced by award-winning Zodiak Kids Studios, the 10 part series shot in Northern Ireland stars emerging British talent and is set to premiere on Disney Channel in 108 countries this year.

•    In drama, Sky has unveiled a major new commitment to UK production, announcing no less than six new series that showcase some of Britain’s best talent. Among these, Sky Atlantic has commissioned UK independent production company Fifty Fathoms to make Guerrilla, a 1970s political drama set in London and starring Idris Elba.

•    In factual, National Geographic has continued its drive to invest in UK originated factual programming with a host of new commitments. National Geographic has commissioned UK start-up Bigger Bang to make Genius, a six-part science series featuring British physicist Stephen Hawking. In addition, the broadcaster has commissioned BAFTA-winning RDF Television to make Undercover Angel, a 10-part series about business people using their entrepreneurial skills to help underprivileged communities.

•    Also in factual, Discovery has commissioned UK indie Tuesday’s Child to make a documentary about endurance adventurer Sean Conway on a 12-week ultra-triathlon around the coast of Britain. Discovery has also commissioned The Great Shark Chase from UK production company Tigress, which stars British adventurer and marine biologist Monty Halls.

Members of the Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA) are committed to investment in UK content, jobs and infrastructure. They invest around £600m a year in first-run UK content, rising to a record £725m if repeats are included.