Microsoft's Xbox Partners With U.K.'s Channel 4 for Original Drama 'Humans'

3:16 AM PST 04/07/2014 by Stuart Kemp
Steven Spielberg is executive produce Xbox's original "Halo" series.

The gaming platform's other original programming plans include a live-action "Halo" project executive produced by Steven Spielberg.

LONDON -- Microsoft's Xbox Entertainment Studios continues to ramp up its content ambitions, striking a deal with U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 for hourlong, eight-episode series Humans, about humanoid robot workers.

U.K. production indie Kudos (Broadchurch) will produce the show, which will share a premiere broadcast window on both the Xbox platform in North America and Channel 4 in the U.K. in 2015.

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Written by British writing team Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley (TV's Spooks and upcoming movie version Spooks: The Greater Good), Humans is an English-language adaptation of Sveriges Television and Matador Film's show Real Humans.

Humans is set in a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a "synth" -- a highly developed robotic servant eerily similar to its live counterpart. In the hope of transforming the way they live, one strained suburban family purchases a refurbished synth only to discover that sharing life with a machine has far-reaching and chilling consequences. 

"Humans not only questions personal relationships, we loved how this sci-fi show toys with reality and our connection to technology," said Xbox Entertainment Studios president Nancy Tellem.

"This deal with Channel 4 and Kudos underscores Xbox Entertainment Studios' commitment to programming premium TV series with global partners and creating engaging interactive experiences."

The commission adds to Xbox Entertainment Studios rapidly expanding slate of premium television output.

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Other previously announced projects include a Halo television series executive produced by Steven Spielberg, Every Street United, an unscripted series about the globally significant sport of street soccer, a tech-focused documentary series by award-winning producers Simon and Jonathan Chinn, the live event Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, and a Halo digital feature project executive produced by Ridley Scott and David Zucker.

Xbox is aiming to attract consumer attention and will look to match the efforts of Netflix, which released its first original show in 2012, while Amazon is also ramping up original output.

Sony Corp.’s entertainment studio also has said it will produce an original series, a drama called Powers, for the PlayStation Network. 

And on Sunday, reports revealed that Yahoo is prepping its own plans to enter the original programming space. 

Xbox Studios will also produce a comedy sketch show with Sarah Silverman and Michael Cera’s JASH comedy collective and a stop-motion show with Seth Green’s Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, which makes the Emmy-winning Robot Chicken.

"In Humans, Sam and Jon have not only crafted an ingenious and imaginative thriller, they're also asking big, thought-provoking questions about how we live," said Channel 4 head of drama Piers Wenger.

"I'm thrilled to be working once again with the team at Kudos and to be partnering with Xbox Entertainment Studios to bring this extraordinary and epic series to the screen," Wenger said. "This is the first co-production commission to benefit from Channel 4’s increased investment in drama and reaffirms our commitment to ambitious, highly original drama series."

Jane Featherstone and Derek Wax will executive produce for Kudos, along with Henrik Widman and Lars Lundstrom from Matador Film, the executive producers of the original Swedish format. Chris Fry (The Smoke) will produce.

Distribution will be handled by Shine International and casting for the show will begin in May with production scheduled for later this summer.

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