Abi Morgan won an Emmy on Sunday night for writing The Hour, a co-production from BBC America and Shine-owned Kudos, which aired on the UK’s BBC Two. With The Hour cancelled last season, some of the partners are coming back together for new drama, River. Commissioned by flagship channel BBC One, the six-part series is created and written by Morgan and produced by Kudos; BBC America is not currently involved. It centers on John River, a brilliant police officer who walks a professional tightrope between a pathology so extreme he risks permanent dismissal, and a healthy state of mind that would cure him of his gift. Morgan says, “River is a fractured mind navigating a brutal world. And he does it wearing a police badge. I can’t think of a better home for it than the BBC. The chance to tell big stories in a bold way on a channel that embraces so many writers, directors and actors I admire and respect is a huge treat.” Shooting starts in London in next year for air in 2015. Casting is underway. This could go some way to appeasing fans of The Hour, the 1950s-set newsroom drama that ran for two seasons and was cancelled by the BBC in February. Ratings had dropped, but fans were stalwart in …
The Hour won’t be back for a third season after all. The BBC today pulled the plug on the one-hour drama about a 1950s BBC newsmagazine show. “We loved the show but have to make hard choices to bring new shows through,” the BBC said. Staring Skyfall’s Ben Whishaw, Romola Garai and The Wire’s Dominic West, the six-episode drama debuted in 2011 on BBC Two in the UK and was seen on this side of the pond on BBC America. While The Hour started off with strong viewership in the UK, its audience had fallen by almost half by the second season. The show was nominated for an Emmy and three Golden Globes last year, including Best Miniseries or Made For TV Movie.
Just as the BBC faces its own real-life TV journalism crisis, the second season of 1950s newsroom drama The Hour kicked off on BBC Two last night. Overnight ratings were down sharply from the series’ debut last year. Hitting an all-time low, the combined audience was 1.33M for a 5.9% share, compared to last year’s start of 2.89M and a 12.65% share, according to measurement service BARB. Strong competition came from rival ITV1 which was airing a friendly soccer match between England and Sweden. The Abi Morgan-created The Hour stars Ben Whishaw, Romola Garai, Dominic West and Oona Chaplin and picks up this year as the Cold War looms. Joining the show this season is The Thick Of It‘s Peter Capaldi as head of news, Randall Brown. The show’s second season starts on BBC America on November 28 at 9PM ET.
‘The Lady’ Set As Opener At Rome Fest
Luc Besson’s The Lady, the political drama starring Michelle Yeoh and inspired by the recently freed Burmese opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has been tapped to open the Rome International Film Festival on Oct. 27. It won’t be the first stop for the film, which will make its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 12.
Reports: RTL, Time Warner Look At Polish Broadcaster TVN
Shares of stock in Polish TV network TVN rose 10% today amid reports of sales talks. Europe’s biggest commercial broadcaster RTL Group is interested in ITI Group’s $800 million controlling stake in the Polish broadcaster, according to Reuters. And TVN CEO Markus Tellenbach has met with Time Warner reps, Warsaw’s Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper reported.
Hacking Scandal Inspires Satire On UK’s Channel 4
The show, with the working title Hacks, will be set in a fictional paper where staff indulge in phone hacking, blagging and “pinging” to get a story by any means necessary. Guy Jenkin (Drop Dead Donkey) is writing the script based on the scandal which has brought about the closure of the News Of The World and exits of News International execs and top Scotland Yard figures.
‘The Hour’ Back For Second Season On BBC
The BBC confirmed today that the series, written and created by Abi Morgan, will be back for six more episodes in its second season on BBC Two. Set in a BBC newsroom in the 1950s, The Hour is produced by …
Andrew Davies, who wrote the script for The Three Musketeers and a slew of BBC period dramas, is adapting Lindy Woodhead’s nonfiction bestseller Shopping, Seduction & Mr Selfridge for ITV Studios. I’m told that ITV hopes the story of how brash American retailer Harry Gordon Selfridge –”The Showman of Shopping” — opened the world’s first purpose-built department store in London in 1909 will repeat the success of Downton Abbey. That NBC Universal production has been a huge hit over here for ITV. Certainly there’s a plum role for the American actor playing Selfridge, who blew his fortune on mistresses and gambling before dying destitute. Selfridge’s girlfriends included famed dancer Isadora Duncan and Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. His massive overspending ultimately cost him control of Selfridges.
The second series of Downton Abbey, meanwhile, started shooting on location at Highclere stately home in Berkshire in March. Filming continues until July. PBS Masterpiece will premiere the second series on Jan. 8, 2012, following its ITV run starting this fall.
But that’s not the only bonnet-on-bonnet action coming your way on Masterpiece.
The second series of the BBC’s Upstairs Downstairs, a sequel to the original 1970s ITV show that chronicled the lives of the Edwardian Bellamy family, goes into production in September. The BBC originally announced its Upstairs Downstairs remake at the same time ITV unveiled Downton Abbey. “Upstairs Downstairs is elegantly entertaining but doesn’t reach the same heights as Downton Abbey,” sniffed the Daily Telegraph. Still, BBC1 controller Danny Cohen was pleased enough with the average 8.4 million viewers to commission another 6×60-minute series. There is no U.S. transmission date for Series 2 yet.
BBC America has come on board to co-produce the new six-part drama series The Hour, announced in November by BBC Two. The series, which will premiere in the summer on BBC America, was created and written by BAFTA-winning Abi Morgan (White Girl). It is a spy thriller set behind the scenes of the BBC’s newsroom in London in the mid 1950s and stars Dominic West (The Wire), Romola Garai (Emma) and Ben Whishaw (Bright Star) locked in a highly competitive, sharp-witted and passionate love triangle. Produced by Kudos and BBC America for the BBC, it is distributed by Shine International, which will take the series to MIPTV next month.