Curtain up on BBC First

Three Musketeers, Peaky Blinders, The Politician’s Husband & Banished are all coming to BBC First.

2014-03-27_0011Three Musketeers, Peaky Blinders, The Politician’s Husband and Banished are amongst new first-run dramas set to screen on new Pay TV channel BBC First.

The titles were revealed at an industry launch held at the Royal Hall of Industries, last night in Sydney.

Coast Australia host Neil Oliver emceed the night in which Jon Penn, Managing Director of BBC Worldwide ANZ and Natalie Edgar, Director of Television, showcased some of the upcoming content.

In attendance were British High Commissioner Paul Madden, BBC Worldwide UK and ANZ President Marcus Arthur, Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein and Executive Director of Television Brian Walsh, Head of Factual Jim Buchan, FremantleMedia CEO Ian Hogg, SBS Programmer Peter Andrews, ASTRA CEO Andrew Maiden, and media.

BBC First will launch in August on the Drama & Lifestyle tier as one of three new global brands announced in October 2013 . It arrives in the Australian market ahead of anywhere else in the world, with premium British drama and comedy, ad-break free.

Titles will also include Burton and Taylor, Quirke, The Game, Dead Boss, Alan Partridge mockumentaries, new seasons of Derek and The Fall and from 2015 Call The Midwife and New Tricks.

While BBC First will offer fast-tracked content to Australian viewers, it also means some titles will be exclusive to the channel before they can be offered to terrestrial broadcasters, such as the ABC, for 12 months. ABC will retain select titles including Doctor Who.

Banished, written by Jimmy McGovern, was recently announced as the first local production, an epic seven part series loosely inspired by events in 1788 when Britain established a penal colony in Australia.

Jon Penn, Managing Director of BBC Worldwide ANZ said: ‘The BBC has always been pioneering and the launch of BBC First in Australia continues in this spirit, offering something totally unique to the market. British drama and comedy has a world-renowned reputation for being clever, complex and immensely enjoyable, attracting top talent on and off the screen. For the first time in Australia, all the very best new British dramas and comedies will be available in one place, giving viewers the opportunity to indulge and immerse themselves in world class creativity.’

Richard Freudenstein, Foxtel Chief Executive said: ‘The partnership between Foxtel and the BBC marks a significant milestone in Australian television. BBC First will enable our customers to see every major new BBC series first on Foxtel. This further consolidates our brilliant offering for subscribers and our pledge to bring the best television from around the world to Foxtel homes.’


Programming highlights:
• The Musketeers –a thrilling world of action, adventure and romance inspired by Dumas’ legendary characters, starring Luke Pasqualino, Tom Burke, Santiago Cabrera, Howard Charles and Peter Capaldi.
• Peaky Blinders – acclaimed epic gangster family saga set in the lawless streets of post-war Birmingham on the cusp of the 1920s, starring Cillian Murphy.
• The Politician’s Husband – a gripping drama about the shifting balance of power in a political marriage, starring David Tennant and Emily Watson and created by Paula Milne.
• Quirke – a mesmerising drama full of mystery, secrets and intrigue, staring Gabriel Byrne as a consultant pathologist in a Dublin city morgue in the 1950s and co-written by Andrew Davies.
• The Game – a stylish spy thriller set in the Cold War, where enemies and allies can’t always be separated, starring Brian Cox.
• Burton and Taylor – starring Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West and telling the story of Hollywood’s original ‘it’ couple Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, acting together in Noel Coward’s ‘Private Lives’.
• Derek – season two of Ricky Gervais’ bittersweet comedy drama about a group of outsiders living on society’s margins.
• Alan Partridge – his two new mockumentaries Welcome To The Places of My Life and On Open Books With Martin Bryce, starring Steve Coogan.
• A Young Doctor’s Notebook – a wry comedy drama about a young doctor’s fledgling career in a small, backwards Russian village, starring Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe.
• The Fall –series two of the hugely popular psychological thriller, in which Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson continues her pursuit of serial killer Paul Spector, played by Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan.
• Dead Boss – a slick comedy about a woman falsely imprisoned for murdering her boss, starring Jennifer Saunders and Sharon Horgan.
• Playhouse Presents – a star-studded collection of contemporary short dramas, from leading talent both on and off screen, including Emma Thompson, Brenda Blethyn, Stephen Fry, Richard E Grant and Sheila Hancock.
• The Crimson Field – marking 100 years since the start of the First World War, a compelling and emotional drama set in a tented field hospital, starring Oona Chaplin, Hermione Norris and Suranne Jones.
• Banished – Jimmy McGovern’s epic series charting the lives, loves, relationships and battle for survival in an 18th century Sydney penal colony. The first local commission for BBC First, starring David Wenham and Russell Tovey.

11 Responses

  1. Ad-break free? Bliss! (but as it should be)
    Watermark-free? Now wouldn’t that be something!!!
    I think only Showcase and the Foxtel movie channels currently have no watermark soiling their programs.
    Programs on FX often have an actual ad for another program in the corner of the current program as well as a watermark and ads interrupting them! So even though I’m paying Foxtel for it, I get my Walking Dead and Justified elsewhere.

  2. They have been running ads all over Foxtel promoting August 1st as the start date.

    What will the ABC do without New Tricks. They are showing 6 episodes a week at the moment. Though with all the original cast gone apart from Waterman interest has probably peaked.

    The ABC will be competing for non-exclusive rights for the shows 12 months later. The ABC has the most money and interest in them.

  3. The BBC is in the midst of fighting for its life. A bit dramatic I know but they now use licence fee money for the World service which will not go down well with the UK public. Also there is strong support to de criminalise TV licence fee non-payment. People will stop paying which I suppose is what the government wants. Enjoy BBC First as it might be its last.

  4. I do hope it means it is cheaper for the ABC. Also the ABC is largely ad break free (except between shows which I like). Although they do like to announce randomly that people shouldn’t watch stuff during a show that they developed recently during this decade. The thing I don’t get is the figures haven’t gone up. Nor has it for SBS.

    Maybe they should of claimed there is no watermark. Because I presume that’s what is being paid for one would hope.

    I wonder with the kind of governments we get in Australia how long the population will be able to afford Foxtel. Even in America there are quite a few cable cutters. They want the same thing here. So in conclusion the BBC now likes being niche in Australia. Congratulations.

  5. The Musketeers and Peaky Blinders are both very good and have both been renewed.Quirke is not bad and looking forward to The Crimson Field in April, all viewed ‘by other means’. They are all certainly BBC 1st on Foxtel, but not fast tracked as they also claim, as The Musketeers has nearly finished and Peaky Blinders was on last September

  6. I think we’ve heard at adnausuam what programs are actually launching from BBC First but no actual Launch date and what platforms bbc 1st will launch on?

    I hope it launches as part of foxtels Digital package works on Telstra TBOX, which would make subscribing to the current movie package more enticing.

    Currently the the only thing the movie package has is the movie channels and Showcase, if they added BBC1 I might be enticed to Subscribe to the movie Package.

  7. Given the state of pay TV in this country, I can’t see this being that beneficial to the BBC from a brand POV, but it should be good for Foxtel.
    I am pleased to see that there’s nothing on that list that I’m so keen to see that I wouldn’t mind waiting 12 months or more to see — I would hope the ABC will be paying less for such content now.

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