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Smithsonian Channel to launch in the UK with local originals

Smithsonian Channel is to launch in the UK with a string of local originals including a doc about British Marxist Tariq Ali and his relationship with Malcolm X.

From 12 February British and Irish viewers will have access to the network’s range of non-fiction programming, including history, travel, air and space, science, nature and pop culture, on Virgin, Sky and Freesat.

The channel, owned by Smithsonian Networks – a joint venture between Showtime and CBS, is already available internationally in Canada, Singapore and Latin America. Its UK launch marks the brand’s first entry into Europe.

Smithsonian Channel will launch in the UK with a string of local commissions including When Tariq Ali Met Malcolm X, a show about the friendship between two controversial firebrands, and Mystic Britain, which reveals the secrets of the UK’s most mysterious sites and is fronted by Clive Anderson.

In addition, the channel is in production on a new series with the American-born Julie Montagu, Viscountess Hinchingbrooke, and will mark landmark occasions such as the 50th anniversary of the moon landing through its 2019 programme slate.

Top US titles will also make their way to the UK channel including the story behind Hollywood blockbuster The Green Book, titled The Green Book: Guide to Freedom.

Colourisation doc America in Colour will also make an appearance. The show transforms history, which viewers have mainly seen in black and white, by adding modern colourisation techniques.

“Smithsonian Channel has already resonated powerfully with audiences in Canada, Singapore and Latin America, so we can’t wait to bring our award-winning and varied slate of programming to the UK audience,” said Tom Hayden, president of Smithsonian Networks.

David Royle, chief programming officer at Smithsonian Networks, added: “We have a long track-record of working with UK production companies, and over the years our programs have been featured by leading UK broadcasters.”

“Now we’ll be bringing a lot of exciting new programmes to the UK, along with commissioning new programmes specific to British interests.”