Sky today (Monday 25 July, 2011) unveiled the new autumn line-up for Sky 1 HD with a series of brand new comedy commissions at the heart of the schedule. Following Sky’s recent commitment to increase the amount it invests in original British programming by 50% over the next three years, Stuart Murphy Director, Sky 1 HD announced new comedy offerings GATESand STARLINGS and two new entertainment commissions, LAST ACT STANDING from Magnum Media and MEET THE PRANKSTERS from Gallowgate Productions.
By 2014, Sky expects to invest £600 million a year in British programming across its portfolio of channels. This commitment follows the success of home-grown content such as entertainment hits GOT TO DANCE and A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, dramas MAD DOGS, STRIKE BACK and THORNE, and the BAFTA-winning documentary FLYING MONSTERS 3D.
Stuart Murphy, said: “I’m so pleased with this autumn’s line up as it feels like a huge mark in the sand for Sky 1 HD. Two years ago we promised customers we’d bring them the best in British comedy and here it is. We’ve worked really hard with the best British talent across all genres to make sure customers feel Sky 1 HD is a premium channel. ”
GATES (6 x 30’) is a Feelgood Fiction Production. An ensemble comedy headed by Sue Johnston (The Royle Family), Tom Ellis (Miranda) and Joanna Page (Gavin & Stacey) set in the all too familiar chaos of the school gates. From a team of writers who have contributed toMy Family, Green Wing and Not Going Out, with the first episode’s script edited by Jennifer Saunders, GATES is essentially a character comedy but with a nod to those sketch-like moments of madness that can only ever happen in the playground. The series casts an eye on how relationships between parents formed during the fifteen minutes of the school drop-off and pick-up can so easily take over their lives. The school gates can be an unforgiving, socially exposed political minefield. GATES is about what happens when your children choose your friends.
STARLINGS (8 x 60’) is a Baby Cow Production. Written by Matt King (Peep Show, Whites) and Steve Edge (Star Stories) and exec produced by Baby Cow founders Henry Normal andSteve Coogan, THE STARLINGS follows the lives of a typical working-class brood who live near Matlock in Derbyshire. Granddad has recently moved in, following a rabble-rousing incident at the old folks’ home. Rather than see him unhappy, Terry (Brendan Coyle,) and his warm-hearted wife, Jan (Lesley Sharp,) decide to move his father in to their already crammed family home.
Making room for him is Charlie, their 16-year-old football-crazy tomboy daughter; work-shy, reptile enthusiast, Gravy; and beautiful Bell and her brand new baby, Zac, who arrives bang on time for the first episode. Then there’s Bell’s ex-boyfriend, Reuben, trying to get back with her. Uncle Loz, Granddad’s long-lost son and the artist of the family; and last, but not least, Jan’s nephew, Fergie, who offers to bivouac in the garden, after being made homeless when his long-suffering partner chucks him out. And that’s it, STARLINGS – a fully-fledged functional family.
These two new commissions join other comedies lined up for Sky 1 HD including TROLLIED(Thursday 4 August at 9pm,) starring Jane Horrocks, Mark Addy and Jason Watkins.TROLLIED isa series that puts a comic twist on one of our most familiar surroundings – the supermarket. In this case it’s Valco, a fictional supermarket in the north-west of England;MOUNT PLEASANT starring a veritable who’s who of British TV talent and top-lined by Sally Lindsay and Daniel Ryan; SPY, a razor-sharp comedy celebrating that special ‘Bond’ between father and son starring Darren Boyd and Robert Lindsay, and introducing Jude Wright; andTHE CAFÉ directed by Craig Cash (The Royle Family) from scripts by Ralf Little (The Royle Family) and Olivier Award-winning Michelle Terry (Reunited). The series ! is a comic love letter to the British seaside injected with Cash’s trademark naturalism and his eye for the tiny details that make life a joy.
Original British drama will continue to be a staple of the Sky 1 HD schedule with a high-octane super-sized second series of STRIKE BACK and Emmy® winner Eddie Izzard taking on the role of Long John Silver in a modern adaptation of the much-loved classic, TREASURE ISLAND.
The first-ever co-production between Sky and HBO/Cinemax, STRIKE BACK: PROJECT DAWN (10 x 60’) builds on the success of its predecessor and boasts amped-up ambitions.Richard Armitage (The Hobbit, Spooks) returns as John Porter, and he’s in a whole world of trouble, having been kidnapped by an international terrorist group. Help is at hand, however, asSTRIKE BACK: PROJECT DAWN introduces not one, but two new heroes, played by Philip Winchester (Camelot, Fringe) and Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom).
An all-star cast takes to the high seas as Robert Louis Stevenson’s page-turning adventureTREASURE ISLAND is brought to life in a spectacular four-hour mini-series for all the family. Joining Izzard (Valkyrie, United States of Tara) are Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings trilogy),Toby Regbo (Glorious 39), Rupert Penry Jones (Whitechapel, Spooks), Philip Glenister(Mad Dogs), Daniel Mays (Ashes To Ashes), Keith Allen (Martina Cole’s The Runaway), Nina Sosanya (Silk), Shirley Henderson (The Crimson Petal and the White), David Harewood(Strike Back) and Donald Sutherland (The Pillars of the Earth).
Entertainment will also be pivotal to Sky 1 HD. The search for a new cast-member for Golden Globe® and Emmy® winner GLEE is already underway in THE GLEE PROJECT (Wednesdays at 8pm, Sky 1 HD), brand new A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN with James Corden, Jamie Rednapp, Freddie Flintoff, John Bishop and Georgie Thompson, and Davina McCall,Ashley Banjo, Adam Garcia and Kimberly Wyatt are already scouring the nation for a new dance sensation in the third season of the phenomenally successful GOT TO DANCE due next year, but brand new to Sky 1 HD is LAST ACT STANDING (working title, Magnum Media, 8 x 60’) where the talent contest and game show collide.
In LAST ACT STANDING, the studio audience is divided into three categories – singers, comedians and variety – and, each week, members are randomly selected to take to the stage for their stint in the spotlight. Here’s the fun part: Armed with voting pads, the remaining audience will play judge and jury, and the jaw-droppingly bad will have to endure more than a jeer here and heckle there. If half of the audience have had enough, the abysmal act in question will be ejected from the show. Quite literally. Think trap-doors, exploding stages, even horizontal bungees…
The winner really will be the LAST ACT STANDING (w/t) , taking home £10,000 and, more importantly, their dignity. A host will be announced imminently.
Also new this autumn, MEET THE PRANKSTERS (w/t) (Gallowgate Productions, 28 x 30’,) anew take on the hidden camera show featuring The Pranksters, a family with an uncanny knack for winding up unwitting members of the public.
Factual highlights include the return of Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington in the aptly titled AN IDIOT ABROAD 2, in which Karl works his way through the ‘Bucket List,’ the things you’re supposed to do before you kick said bucket. ASHLEY BANJO’S SECRET STREET CREW where Britain’s king of street dance embarks on a mission to get the nation moving; SAFEBREAKERS with Ben Shephard, a unique series where two teams go head-to-head to reach and unlock a safe containing £5,000 cash that will pushparticipants to the limit in a test of genuine skill and brainpower; and INSIDE GATWICK whereSky 1 HD has gained exclusive access to Gatwick Airport.
Sky 1 HD continues to house the best of the US, a position that it cements with the acquisition of pop culture phenomenon and Golden Globe® and Emmy® winner GLEE and with the acquisition of Steven Spielberg’s epic dinosaur adventure TERRA NOVA, both airing just days after their US debut. Back in 1993 the Academy Award®-winning director smashed every box office record going with Jurassic Park and he just couldn’t resist a return trip to the prehistoric era. From the silver to the small screen, Spielberg fulfils executive-producing duties on an adventure filled with white-knuckle thrills, deadly dinos and an impressive cast featuring BritsShelley Conn (Strike Back, Mistresses) and Rod Hallett (The Tudors), Irish actor Jason O’Mara (Life On Mars) and Avatar’s Stephen Lang.
Combined with hugely successful returning series including HAWAII FIVE-0, THE MIDDLE, SPARTACUS, FRINGE, RAISING HOPE, THE SIMPSONS and multiple Emmy® award nominee MODERN FAMILY, there’s something for everyone on Sky 1 HD this autumn.