BBC will launch premium drama channel on Foxtel on August 3

BBC logoThe BBC will launch its new premium drama channel on Sunday, August 3 with a boxset screening of The Musketeers.

BBC First, announced last year as a new service on Foxtel, will feature first run content from the UK’s public broadcaster with shows including Peaky Blinders and the TV movie Burton and Taylor about the relationship between screen giants Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor and starring Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West, set for the opening day of the channel.

The broadcaster hopes the new channel can help prevent piracy of its shows by fast tracking many from the UK to the new channel.

Natalie Edgar, director of television, BBC Worldwide Australia and New Zealand, said: “A Sunday launch gives us the chance to reach as many viewers as possible on our first day. We wanted to mark this exciting occasion with a very special line-up for viewers which gives them a real taste of the channel and delivers content to them in a way we know they like to enjoy it.”

“Over the months ahead we will be offering viewers more opportunities to binge view by scheduling box sets of series and audiences’ will get the first chance to see premiere episodes of our biggest new programmes at 8.30pm.”

The BBC has acquired a string of contemporary dramas recently including The Honourable Woman starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, and series two of The Fall, starring Gillian Anderson. The announcement said the shows will be shown on the channel is quick succession to their UK transmission.

Brian Walsh, Foxtel director of television said in a statement: “The addition of BBC First cements our commitment to providing Foxtel customers with first-run, high quality international drama. The BBC is world-renowned for producing premium programming that is loved by Australian audiences, and BBC First delivers scripted drama with award-winning actors and compelling stories across varying genres such as comedy, thriller and historical.”

There has been some dismay about the venture however, with the ABC telling Mumbrella last year it was “flabbergasted” it was not consulted about the decision following a fifty year relationship with the BBC.

The spokeswoman said the public service broadcaster had been seeking talks with the BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide as its three year contract comes to an end on June 30 next year, but had been knocked back before the announcement was made.

“We were pretty flabbergasted,” she said. “We only found out yesterday and we had been asking them for a while to sit down to talk about a new deal, so we were pretty shocked.”

The ABC will retain popular shows such as Doctor Who, as it has a contract for the lifetime of the show, and Grand Designs and QI which will not be affected by the deal.

Content used on Four Corners from the BBC’s Panorama will also be unaffected, as will popular children’s programs such as Peppa Pig – the number one program on ABC iView – the spokeswoman said.

Robert Burton-Bradley


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