The LA Screenings are now behind us and the acquisitions teams at the various UK broadcasters are currently in the process of evaluating the new crop of shows and entering the deal-making process with the six Hollywood studios (and a few independent distributors). While all eyes are inevitably on the new shows headed to the UK, TVWise will be taking a look at the current roster of U.S. scripted series, confirming which shows will in fact be returning to their UK broadcasters.
Our extensive acquisitions coverage kicks off with a look at UKTV. Following our interview with Director of Programme Acquisitions Catherine Mackin and Head of Acquisitions & Co-Productions Alexandra Finlay (as well as follow up pieces on more international drama co-productions and UKTV’s journey from ‘bit player’ to becoming a major force with the studios), we take a look at the company’s Alibi channel and their returning slate of first run drama.
After growing their audience share to 0.43 in 2014 (up 6% YOY), the crime focussed channel, who in years past have been home to such series as Body of Proof and King & Maxwell, ran into some particularly bad luck overt the past few months with two of their high-profile US imports, TNT’s Perception and CBS’ Reckless, being cancelled by their respective networks in the United States.
Still, it’s not bad news all round, as Murdoch Mysteries – a co-production with CBC, Shaftesbury Films and ITV Studios Global Entertainment – will be returning for a ninth season in 2016, with Star Trek‘s William Shatner guest starring as Mark Twain. Established hits Castle and Rizzoli & Isles will also be returning to Alibi as TVWise has confirmed that UKTV has picked up the UK rights to the latest seasons of both shows. Full details follow below:
Created by Andrew Marlowe, Castle follows best selling author Richard Castle who, under a prior agreement with the NYPD to observe and assist a detective squad, works alongside Detective Kate Beckett to solve some of the city’s strangest crimes. The drama series is produced by ABC Studios and stars Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Susan Sullivan, Molly Quinn, Jon Huertas, Tamala Jones and Seamus Dever. ABC recently picked up the show for an eight season, with both Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic inking one-year deals to return to their roles as Castle and Beckett, respectively.
Castle has long been an important title for UKTV and their Alibi channel. They acquired the series back in 2010 and it has been at the core of Alibi’s schedules ever since. The series has been a strong ratings performer for Alibi, with the show’s sixth season frequently drawing audiences of around 500K viewers. Castle also shows no signs of slowing down with the show’s seventh season, which is currently airing on Alibi on Wednesday nights, opening to a consolidated audience of 483K viewers. UKTV holds the rights to the just ordered eighth season thanks to a long-standing agreement with international distributor Disney Media Distribution, which was extended back in 2013.
The show’s eighth season is poised to be one of change both in front and behind the camera. Penny Johnson Jerald, who played Captain Gates from season four onwards, was all but fired from the series when ABC Studios walked away from contract negotiations and informed the actress that she would not be returning. Elsewhere, series creator Andrew Marlowe, who stepped down as showrunner last season, has exited the show completely, as has fellow executive producer Terri Miller. David Amann, who took over the reins last year, also exited his role as showrunner and is being replaced by Castle veterans Terence Paul Winter and Alexi Hawley.
Rizzoli & Isles
Created by Tess Gerritsen and developed for television by Janet Tamaro, Rizzoli & Isles revolves around Jane Rizzoli, a tough-as-nails Boston police detective, and Maura Isles, a smart, impeccably dressed medical examiner from a privileged background. Despite being complete opposites, the two women share an offbeat chemistry and strong working relationship that lets them solve complex murder mysteries in the city of Boston. The drama series is produced by Warner Horizon Television and stars Angie Harmon, Sasha Alexander, Lorraine Bracco, Jordan Bridge, Bruce McGill and Brian Goodman.
Much like Castle, Rizzoli & Isles has been fundamentally important to the programming mix on Alibi. “One of our really valued shows on Alibi is Rizzoli & Isles”, UKTV’s Head of Acquisitions & Co-Productions Alexandra Finlay recently told TVWise, “it does really well.” A fair point, as Rizzoli & Isles has been one of Alibi’s biggest hits, with the back-half of the most recent season attracting an average consolidated audience of just over 400K viewers, up considerably on the slot average. As such UKTV remains committed to the series and holds the rights to the upcoming sixth season as part of a long-standing agreement with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution.
The sixth season of Rizzoli & Isles, which like season five runs an extended length of 18 episodes – thanks in large part to its strong ratings performance state-side and TNT’s desire to program year-round. The new season, will add a wide array of cases to Jane and Maura’s docket, from a high-end art heist that gives them chance to do some undercover work to an emotionally raw murder investigation targeting one of their own fellow detectives. They’ll even wade into the cutthroat world of competitive bass fishing in order to hook a cold-blooded killer. Adam Sinclair (24) will guest star in several episodes as Kent Drake, an assistant medical examiner.