NBC orders BBC Studios blue chip series, closes Peacock Productions

Planet Earth

NBC has ordered a 10-part blue chip wildlife series from BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit and confirmed it is shuttering its unscripted division, Peacock Productions.

The New World will visit locations across North America, Central America and South America to explore the landscapes, remote wilderness and mysterious creatures that inhabit the region.

The show will take four years to film and is set to air in 2024, with NBC retaining “significant distribution rights globally and across platforms,” according to BBCS.

Mike Gunton (Planet Earth II, Dynasties) exec produces for BBCS’s NHU in association with Universal Television Alternative Studio.

“The New World will bring an entirely new and intense perspective of this vast, diverse and extraordinary super-continent,” Gunton said.

“For a natural history filmmaker, it has everything – spanning 8,700 miles, poles at each end and the Equator at its heart, it really does stand apart. This is the chance to tell not only a unique story of scale and drama but also of the interconnectivity and fragility of life.”

“The New World is a massive piece of four-quadrant commercial entertainment that has the capacity to capture the curiosity and minds of millions,” said Paul Telegdy, chairman, NBC Entertainment. “I believe that great storytelling told on a broad scale has the power to produce wide-sweeping cultural change, and this project has all the makings to deliver on that potential.”

In related news, NBC News is in the process of winding down its in-house production arm Peacock Productions, which has been behind shows such as Surviving R. Kelly: The Impact for Lifetime, Killer Motive for Oxygen and American Swamp for MSNBC.

Paul Telegdy

It was also behind The Michael Jackson Story for US cabler Reelz and live events such as Shark School With Michael Phelps for Discovery.

Around 30 people are set to be affected with the closure, although the US broadcaster has said they could find new roles within the NBC News division. In a statement, the broadcaster said the prodco would be closed from March 2.

“NBC News is shifting its documentary strategy to an entirely new model, consistent with industry trends, and unfortunately the existing operation is no longer viable. We are working with affected employees to help find positions around NBC Universal.”

NBC has also unveiled a single-camera comedy based on the early life of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

Young Rock is from NBC sibling Universal Television, Johnson and Dany Garcia’s Seven Bucks Productions and Fierce Baby Productions.

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