Nellie Andreeva

The Borgias will be back. Showtime today renewed the costume drama starring Jeremy Irons for a second season with a 10-episode order. The series, from creator Neil Jordan, debuted earlier this month with 1.06 million viewers, the pay-cable network’s largest premiere audience for a drama series in seven years. (The cumed audience for the pilot across multiple platforms has reached 3.71 million). As it moved from 9 PM to 10 PM after the premiere, the original-airing ratings dipped, but the averages over multiple runs have remained consistent and, season-to-date, The Borgias, set in Renaissance Italy, is pacing ahead of the highest-rated season of Showtime’s previous period drama, The Tudors. Showtime had already commissioned additional scripts, which are being written by Jordan. Production of Season 2 will begin in the summer for a 2012 premiere. “Neil Jordan’s cleverly crafted tale of a 15th century papal family has proven quickly addictive,” Showtime’s entertainment president David Nevins said. “It’s a tribute to his incredible skills as an auteur and to the extraordinary cast led by Jeremy Irons that this show fits so seamlessly into our line-up of quality shows.”

Oscar-winner Irons stars as Rodrigo Borgia, the cunning, manipulative patriarch of the Borgia family who builds an empire by bribing, buying and muscling his way into the papacy. Along the way, the family commits virtually every sin in the book and invents more than a few of their own. Jordan will continue to serve as executive producer, writer and will again direct the first two episodes. Accompanying Jordan this season is writer and director David Leland (Band of Brothers) who will write several episodes and also direct two episodes. The series will again be produced as a Canadian-Irish-Hungarian Treaty co-production by DreamWorks TV and Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers banner. The future of the other two Showtime original series currently on the air, comedies Nurse Jackie and United States of Tara, is yet to be determined. Both have been soft in the ratings, but for now, Nurse Jackie, the stronger performer of the two, looks good, while it seems unlikely that Tara will be renewed.

TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.