Brit design duo cross pond for AAC

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TORONTO -- Establishing a North American beachhead, British TV design gurus Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan will shoot their own Canadian home makeover show as part of an exclusive two-year deal with Alliance Atlantis Communications.

Canadian cable channel Home & Garden TV (HGTV Canada) on Wednesday said it has commissioned 52 episodes of "Colin and Justin's Home Heist" after McAllister and Ryan's British-produced TV shows gained cult status here.

As part of the deal, Toronto-based Ciniflex will produce an initial 26 episodes of "Home Heist" from April to December, with the series scheduled to make its debut in October on HGTV Canada.

McAllister and Ryan will return to Canada in April 2008 to shoot a second season of 26 episodes.

The Scottish duo's crossing of the Atlantic follows their U.K.-produced series "How NOT to Decorate," "Trading Up" and "Million Pound Property Experiment" doing big numbers on HGTV Canada and BBC Canada, cable channels owned and operated by Alliance Atlantis.

"How Not to Decorate," for example, was the third-highest-rated program among women age 25-54 on HGTV Canada in fall 2006.

That in turn helped HGTV Canada's average audience in the female 25-54 demo to jump 29% in 2006 against 2005 numbers,

HGTV Canada content vp Anna Gecan said that her network initially considered producing a Canadian version of "How NOT to Decorate," but decided on an original series from McAllister and Ryan after witnessing a successful Canadian publicity tour the duo completed countrywide in September.

"They're like little rock stars. We realized they (McAllister and Ryan) are a tremendous asset to the network, and wildly popular with our viewers," she said.

Gecan added that McAllister and Ryan will continue to produce TV shows in Britain, but will use their production time in Canada over the next two years to grow a foothold in the North American market.

Each week, "Home Heist" will feature the design duo being tipped off to dubious home designs before they "steal" and redesign a home over a one-week period, only returning it to its rightful owners when they promise not to re-offend.
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