Sky Orders First Original TV Drama From Author Harlan Coben

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The U.K. pay TV giant's Sky Arts will also air a drama in which 'Episodes' star Stephen Mangan plays a pregnant man.

U.K. pay TV giant Sky is bolstering its drama output further.

The company on Monday unveiled a drama with Episodes star Stephen Mangan, called Birthday, for its Sky Arts network. It also said that U.S. author Harlan Coben would bring his first original TV drama, The Five, to the Sky Living network.

The news came ahead of the launch of the highly anticipated Sky Atlantic drama Fortitude.

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Birthday, written by Joe Penhall (Sunny Afternoon), is an adaptation of a sellout 2012 Royal Court play and will be directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill).

In Birthday, Ed (Mangan) is in a maternity ward waiting for a cesarean and the birth of his daughter. "With his high-flying executive wife at his side (Anna Maxwell Martin, Death Comes to Pemberley) doing her best to remain sympathetic and patient, we follow Ed through the agony, the tears, the humiliation, the anxiety and the ecstasy of labor," a show description says. "In Penhall's hilarious, thoughtful and deeply moving script, viewers are invited on an exceptional journey through existential questions, gross-out humor and high-drama into the very heart of modern relationships."

Said Mangan: "We've long known that Birthday would make a wonderful TV drama, and we're delighted that Sky Arts shared our vision. Now, for the first time, viewers are able to get right into the delivery room to witness the spectacle of a heavily pregnant man in all his hormonal, bloated, mammary-swollen glory — up close and (maybe a little too) personal."

Coben (Tell No One), known for his mysteries and thrillers, has created The Five as a new original story for the Sky channel. Said the author: "The Five is my first original story for television, and I couldn't have found a better home. "

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The Five is described as a "roller-coaster thriller" that follows a group of friends who are united by a terrible incident. Haunted by the disappearance of one of their younger brothers some years earlier, while he was in their care, the group is forced to revisit the past when the missing boy's DNA turns up at the scene of a murder.

Both shows will air later in the year.

"These latest commissions add to Sky's ambitious slate of original drama this year, including The Last Panthers, the crime drama written by Jack Thorne and starring Samantha Morton, Tahar Rahim and John Hurt; Critical, the new medical drama from Line of Duty writer Jed Mercurio; The Enfield Haunting starring Timothy Spall, Matthew Macfadyen and Juliet Stevenson; and Raymond Briggs' much loved classic Fungus the Bogeyman," Sky said. "There are also returning hits, including gothic horror Penny Dreadful and action series Strike Back."

Said Anne Mensah, head of drama at Sky: "We are committed to bringing top-quality original content to our customers, from the best [onscreen] and offscreen talent in the industry — 2015 is shaping up to be a stellar year for drama on Sky."

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

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