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PBS, BBC in ‘ambitious’ factual partnership

Pubcasters from both sides of the Atlantic Sea have com together to coproduce a slate of “ambitious factual specials”, including a new Sir David Attenborough title.

David Attenborough croppedThe coproduction agreement will America’s BBC and the UK’s BBC, plus the latter’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, create between eight and ten programming special comprising around 20 hours a year.

The deals include singles and “flagship multipart series”, with specials beginning to roll out as early as this summer on PBS stations in the US and BBC One in the UK. Genres will include natural history, science, history, religion and the arts.

Naturalist Attenborough’s (pictured) new show, Waking Giants, will look at the recent discovery of a massive new species of titanosaur bones found in the South American desert.

Earth’s Natural Wonders will look at great natural landscapes around the world, while Super Nature: Flight Revealed is a three-part series using cutting edge technology to reveal secrets of flight by looking at animals, birds and inspects.

PBS said some specials may be included in strands such as Nature and Great Performances, which Thirteen/WNET produces, and Nova, which comes from WGBH.

“PBS and the BBC share similar public service missions and the same commitment to producing entertaining and educational programming of the highest quality,” said Beth Hoppe, chief programming executive and general manager of general audience programming at PBS.

“This deal allows BBC and PBS to develop and deliver a wealth of the highest quality multi-genre factual content — which will entertain and inspire audiences across the country,” added Matt Forde, executive VP, TV sales and coproductions, BBC Worldwide North America.

Hoppe and PBS’s senior VP, programming and business affairs negotiated the deal with BBCWW’s senior VP, sales and coproductions, factual, Chris Cole. Hoppe and Bill Gardner, PBS’s VP, programming and development will oversee the US side of the editorial, with Natalie Humphreys, BBC’s controller of factual and daytime doing the same in the UK.

BBC series such as Sherlock and Call the Midwife already perform well on PBS, whose audience is partial to various British series. To that end, the pubcaster is a coproducer of ITV period dramas Dowton Abbey and Grantchester.

At yesterday’s TCA, the Masterpiece strand has acquired Arthur & George, the ITV series from Buffalo Pictures that stars Martin Clunes as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Home Fires, which follows a remarkable group of women in a small rural village during World War II and is an ITV Studios and Masterpiece coproduction.