UKTV’s Drama Channel Acquires NBC’s ‘Crusoe’, ‘Pinocchio’ Mini & ‘A Bear Named Winnie’

Drama is adding three high profile titles to their line-up.

The UKTV owned and operated channel has struck a deal with the London based independent distributor Power for the UK rights to Crusoe, the 13 episode NBC drama starring Sean Bean and Phillip Winchester; a two-part Pinocchio miniseries; and World War 1 drama A Bear Named Winnie starring Stephen Fry and Michael Fassbender.

“Power’s long history of producing, co-producing and acquiring gripping scripted dramas means that we have one of the strongest back catalogues around”, said Susan Waddell, Chief Executive Officer of Power. “We are pleased that there continues to be an appetite for these one of a kind classics

Originally produced for the 2008-2009 broadcast season, Crusoe is based on the Daniel Defoe novel and tells the story of Robinson Crusoe, who, following a shipwreck, finds himself fighting for survival on a desert island with only his wits to protect him. Phillip Winchester (Strike Back) stars as Crusoe, while Sean Bean plays his father. Joss Ackland, Tongayi Chirisa, Anna Walton, Mia Maestro and Sam Neill also star

The series, which was originally envisioned as a potential long-running drama, was cancelled by NBC after low ratings and as such only one 13 episode season was produced. It was created by Stephen Gallagher and had the distinction of being the first US scripted prime-time series to be produced by a British production company in “nearly 40 years” and was originally broadcast in the UK by Channel 5.

Pinocchio is a two part mini-series starring Bob Hoskins and Robbie Kay, which was originally produced for the Italian market in 2008. Described as a re-telling of the classic tale, the two-hour mini tells the story of a young boy brought into the world by magic and utterly unprepared for what his new life has to throw at him. On this voyage of self-discovery Pinocchio (Kay) invites danger at every turn, much to the heartbreak of the father who created him from wood, Geppetto (Hoskins).

World War I drama A Bear Named Winnie follows Lieutenant Harry Colebourn (Michael Fassbender), a young army veterinarian and his bear cub, Winnie. Knowing he can’t take Winnie with him to the frontline in France, Harry finds a home for her at the London Zoo, vowing to return to her as soon as the war is over. After doubting Winnie’s ability to survive zoo life, zookeeper Protheroe (Stephen Fry), is proved wrong when the Winnie becomes the star attraction at the zoo.

For their part, the three programmes join a line-up of series on Drama which includes Inspector George Gently, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, The Paradise and Bergerac. The deal with Power also comes at a time when UKTV are looking to continue to drive growth in Drama, which now reaches an average of 10 million adults per month.

As part of said drive, UKTV recently agreed a deal with Zodiak Rights for the UK rights to The Pinkertons, which is set to air later this year. That deal marked the first time that the channel had taken the exclusive first run rights to a US drama, after making a name through repeat runs of classic dramas, with further such deals on the horizon.