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October 7, 2015

BBC America Revamps 'Supernatural Saturdays' and Signals Move to Original Programming

by Catherine Lawson, posted Jan 6th 2011 7:30AM
'Doctor Who logoIs BBC America angling to become the new TV home of serious sci fi? With the recent cancelations of 'Caprica' and 'Stargate: Universe,' and the fate of 'V' and 'Fringe' hanging in the balance, it hasn't been a great winter for fans of ambitious, scripted sci fi series.

Now, however, comes news that even though it won't be showing the new season of fan favorite 'Torchwood', BBC America has decided to champion the sci fi genre, and is adding a daytime block of sci fi programming pairing 'The X Files' with with 'Doctor Who' reruns. We also hear exciting news that the channel is moving toward making its own original programming for the first time.

The New Year has brought a revamp of BBC America's primetime "Supernatural Saturdays," which the channel says demonstrates its commitment to sci fi. In this slot, the channel is rolling out three all-new co-productions: 'Primeval', 'Outcasts' and 'Bedlam.' It will also be home to new seasons of 'Doctor Who' and 'Being Human'.

Perry Simon, General Manager, Channels said: "BBC America has been setting a bench-mark for quality supernatural and sci-fi shows like 'Torchwood' and 'Doctor Who,' attracting millions of fans to the channel. Throughout 2011 our viewers will see the return of old friends like 'Doctor Who' and 'Primeval,' which we helped save from extinction, as well as some great new additions to our schedule like 'Outcasts' and 'Bedlam.' Our fans told us they wanted these shows, and we are delighted to give them what they want."

The 2011 fall development rosters for the networks are crammed with new shows based around paranormal, superhero, sci fi and/or fantasy themes. NBC alone has eight (count 'em) such projects in the works, including Ron 'Battlestar Galactica' Moore's new venture, '17th Precinct,' which is set in a world ruled by magic, not science, Bryan Fuller's 'Munsters' reboot, and 'Guardians,' which follows guardian angels working undercover as Starbucks baristas.

So, by revamping its primetime Saturday line-up this early in the year and committing to the sci fi genre, BBC America may well be getting the jump on its rivals. By airing the new series before any of the ones in development come on-line at the networks the channel can build up a fan base without much competition from new episodes on other channels.

Hot on the heels of the 'Primeval' finale in a few weeks' time, the 9PM ET Saturday slot will be filled by new frontier drama 'Outcasts'. BBC America describes the series as "taking viewers into a new world as it explores survival, sex, politics and the drive for power in a new post-Earth era." Shot in South Africa and created by Ben Richards ('MI-5'), 'Outcasts' stars Eric Mabius ('Ugly Betty'), Liam Cunningham ('Clash Of The Titans') and Hermione Norris ('MI-5').

In Spring 2011 "Supernatural Saturdays" will bring Matt Smith's second season as 'Doctor Who' and the third season of 'Being Human.' 'Doctor Who' will open with a spectacular two-parter set in the US, written by showrunner Steven Moffat. The new season will be split into two blocks, with the second airing in the fall, and viewers have been promised cliffhangers and plot twists galore.

'Being Human' will again see the three twenty-somethings trying to live as normally as possible despite being a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost. This season the housemates will relocate from their current home in Bristol to Wales -- a move triggered by events in the dramatic climax of the second season -- while encountering some new faces and battling their biggest threat yet.

"Supernatural Saturdays" will also be the launching pad for new six-part series 'Bedlam.' The sexy, contemporary paranormal drama stars Joanna Page ('Gavin & Stacey,' 'Love Actually') and is set in Bedlam Heights -- an apartment building converted from a pre-Victorian insane asylum. The inhabitants experience the darker side of the building's history when former asylum spirits come back to claim what they believe to be theirs and seek revenge on those who have wronged them.

This week, in a move signaling a shift toward original programming, BBC America announced the hiring of former Discovery, IFC and Bravo Production and Development executive, Rachel Smith, to the newly-created position of VP, Original Programming.

Smith will will oversee all aspects of non-scripted program development for the channel, and Perry Simon said that her appointment "reinforces BBC America's commitment to developing original content for the channel. Our aim is to create a slate that speaks to an American audience with the same quality, intelligence, irreverence and innovation that you expect from the BBC."

Smith's previous producing credits include 'Dresscue Me,' 'The Real Housewives of The O.C.,' 'My Life on the D List' and 'Being Bobby Brown.'

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Joe Siegler

I really wish they'd start running classic Doctor Who.

January 06 2011 at 12:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Joe Siegler's comment


January 06 2011 at 1:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rick cokely

The BBC has always been good to sci-fi fans, it's no surprise they are moving towards more of that. I have to agree with Kevin in that there are still plenty of shows that aren't being shown currently in the states that could garner a lot of interest without going the route of new and original programming. BBC-A has basically become my "go-to" channel when there is nothing else on. At least with BBC-A we can bank on them at least giving an original show a chance instead of breaking up seasons into year+ long hiatuses and canceling shows to put on more wrestling. I think it's a good move for them.

January 06 2011 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well, now I have a name for what destroyed what used to be more independent and edgier fare before GE (NBC) got their grimy hands on them. Thanks Rachel Smith for making Bravo, Discovery and IFC nothing what they were and a dumping ground for "original programming" (reality shows)
So basically you can expect to see a ton more of crap reality shows about sci-fi things.
BBC America used to be must see for my limited British Imports. Now, I don't watch a single thing on it!!!!! Its utter CRAP!

January 06 2011 at 8:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think BBC America showing US show reruns is stupid. They have so many great things that do not show here that could place there and be a big hit. This is just a waste of a timeslot.

January 06 2011 at 8:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Kevin's comment

Not only is ST:TNG an American show, it's also carried on SyFy, as well as local broadcast tv in many markets. Given the huge library of BBC shows, there's no excuse for this.

January 06 2011 at 1:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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