EXCLUSIVE: BBC Four has closed a deal with Endemol Worldwide Distribution to acquire the exclusive first run UK broadcast rights to Australian mini-series Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War. My sources tell me that the deal was closed in Cannes at MIPCOM last month. I also hear that the two part mini-series is set to premiere on BBC Four in early 2013.
Created by Christopher Lee, Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War tells the story of Austalian media tycoon Kerry Packer and how he established World Series Cricket in the late 1970’s. In 1976, Packer was infuriated that his network had been denied the TV broadcasting rights by the Australian Cricket Board and now fearing the game was dying declared war on the cricket establishment. Polishing an idea by John Cornell, Kerry Packer secretly signed up 50 of the world’s greatest cricketers and created World Series Cricket. He knew the players, who had been underpaid for years, were on the point of rebellion against the cricket authorities. His rebel games clashed head-on with official test matches, and the war was on. Despite poor crowds at first, a brave new world of sports broadcasting had begun, ushering in the era of one-day cricket played under lights. The mini-series, which originally aired on Australia’s Nine Network in August, stars Lachy Hulme, Matthew Le Nevez, Brendan Cowell, Damon Gameau, Abe Forsythe, Cariba Heine and Darryl Brown.
In announcing the acquisition, Sue Deeks, the BBC’s Head of Programme Acquisitions, said: “Anchored by a mesmerising performance by Lachy Hulme, Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War, is a fascinating and thoroughly entertaining dramatization of the tumult that engulfed cricket 35 years ago – I really hope that BBC Four viewers enjoy it as much as I did!”