EXCLUSIVE: BBC Three Drops FX’s Comedy Series ‘Wilfred’

Wilfred S4The BBC is sending Wilfred to the dog house.

BBC Three will not be acquiring the ten episode fourth and final season of FX’s comedy series Wilfred from international distributor Twentieth Century Fox International Television Distribution, TVWise has learned exclusively.

Wilfred tells the story of Ryan, a young man struggling unsuccessfully to make his way in the world until he forms a unique friendship with Wilfred, his neighbor’s pet dog. Everyone else sees Wilfred as just a dog, but Ryan sees a crude and somewhat surly, yet irrepressibly brave and honest Australian bloke in a cheap dog suit. The series, which was developed for American television by David Zuckerman, is produced by FX Productions and stars Elijah Wood, Jason Gann, Fiona Gubelmann and Dorian Brown.

The “quirky” comedy was a rare US acquisition for the BBC, who swooped for the comedy after having previously aired the original Australian series on which Wilfred is based (also starring Jason Gann as the titular dog). BBC Three agreed the multi-season deal for Wilfred with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution in 2011, under then Controller Zai Bennett.

It should be noted that the decision to drop the show was not predicated by BBC Three’s impending move online but rather by the poor ratings performance of the Elijah Wood fronted show. Though a decent enough performer in its first season, the ratings slipped in season two and resulted in the show’s third season airing on BBC Three in a late-night slot in quadruple bills. That matches the ratings trajectory of the show state-side, with FX Networks moving Wilfred to fledgling comedy network FXX for its shortened final run.

BBC Three execs have now made decisions (one way or another) on all of their US imports ahead of the youth-skewing channel’s move online. As previously reported, following a deal between ITV and Fox, BBC Three is set to lose the rights to first-run episodes of Family Guy this Autumn, before they ultimately lose the rights to previous seasons of the show when their licensing agreement expires in 2017 – with Family Guy moving back to BBC Two until then.