Sundance Now to Co-Produce Comedy From 'Veep' Producer

Simon Blackwell - Getty - H 2017
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Sundance Now is ramping up its slate of originals.

The AMC Networks-owned streamer on Saturday announced two major acquisitions, as well as a new co-production with BBC Worldwide North America from former Veep executive producer Simon Blackwell, at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour.

Created and written by Blackwell, Back is a six-part dark comedy that follows Stephen (David Mitchell) as he tries to follow in his recently deceased father’s footsteps and take over the family business, but his plans are soon foiled by the unexpected return of his estranged foster brother, Andrew (Robert Webb). 

Directed by Ben Palmer (The Inbetweeners), the project reunites Blackwell with the two former Peep Show stars. Sundance has come onboard the project as a co-producer, joining That Mitchell & Webb Company, who will produce in association with Big Talk Productions for Channel 4 in the U.K. Kenton Allen and Matthew Justice will executive produce with Blackwell, Mitchell and Webb.  

The series will premiere first on streamer Sundance Now this fall, followed by a linear launch on SundanceTV in 2018. Back joins Sundance Now original scripted series The Chances, which earned a straight-to-series order in May. 

“Funny and clever with a strong emotional heart, Back is an auteur-driven series that brings together a unique pairing of some of today’s best comedic minds," said SundanceTV and Sundance Now general manager Jan Diedrichsen. "It is the perfect entrée into comedy for Sundance Now, with its compelling yet relatable characters and hilarious storylines. We are sure that this laugh-out-loud, addictive comedy will have members binge-watching in one sitting.”

Added Big Talk Productions CEO Kenton Allen: "Simon, David and Robert are the holy trinity of British comedy and, in this increasingly dynamic global marketplace, we're delighted that this wonderful new show will reach U.S. audiences thanks to our friends at Sundance Now."

Additionally, Sundance Now has acquired two dramas: the Julia Stiles thriller Riviera and the Samantha Morton-Tim Roth miniseries Rillington Place. The former will launch Sept. 14 on the streaming service, with the latter set to bow Nov. 9.

From The Crying Game's Neil Jordan, Riviera is a 10-part thriller set in the south of France. Stiles stars as Georgina, who is newly married to billionaire Constantine Clios when he is killed in a yacht explosion. She is shocked to discover the fortune that maintained his immaculate, ever-so-tasteful lifestyle is tainted with dishonesty, double-dealing, crime and ultimately murder. 

Lena Olin (Alias), Adrian Lester (Hustle), Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones), Anthony LaPaglia (Without a Trace) and Phil Davis (Poldark) also star. Jordan, Liza Marshall (Red Riding Trilogy, Taboo), Kris Thykier (Kickass, Woman in Gold) and former U2 manager Paul McGuinness serve as executive producers on the series, with Foz Allan for Archery Pictures and Primo Productions producing for Sky.

Rillington Place is a three-part drama based on the real-life multiple murders carried out by John Christie in Notting Hill in the 1940s and 1950s. The subsequent tragic miscarriage of justice, which led to Timothy Evans being hanged for a crime he did not commit, contributed towards the abolition of capital punishment in Britain.

BBC Studios, the BBC’s commercial production arm, is producing in association with Bandit Television for BBC One. Ed Whitmore (He Kills Coppers) and Tracey Malone (Born To Kill) penned the project, which is directed by Craig Viveiros (And Then There Were None).

The trio of projects come to Sundance Now several months after the streamer expanded beyond the U.S. and into Canada.