High-def is a focus at BSkyB


British Sky Broadcasting on Wednesday unveiled its biggest commitment to high-definition drama commissions to date, announcing a £10 million ($19.9 million) slate for its 2008-09 calendar.

Building on the success of its series of HD fantasy dramas from Terry Pratchett, including "Hogfather" and the forthcoming "The Colour of Magic," BSkyB managing director of entertainment Sophie Turner Laing unveiled three new projects that will premiere on Sky One and Sky One HD during the next two years.

"Strike Back," an adaptation of ex-SAS soldier Chris Ryan's latest thriller, will run as six hourlong episodes produced by Andy Harries ("The Queen") with Left Bank Pictures.

"Skellig" brings to the screen award-winning children's novelist David Almond's fantasy tale about a 10-year-old boy who can feel his dying baby sister's heartbeat within him and who befriends a mysterious creature living beneath the crumbling garage of his new home. It will be produced by Nick Hirschkorn at Feel Films.

"Going Postal," the third novel in Pratchett's Discworld series to be screened by Sky, will be created again by the Mob Film Co. and produced by Rod Brown and Ian Sharples.

Last Christmas, "Hogfather" attracted the biggest audience for a multichannel commission excluding sport, winning an audience of 2.9 million viewers. The second part in the series, "Colour of Magic," starring David Jason, Sean Astin and Tim Curry, will premiere this weekend on Sky One and Sky One HD.

"We are working closely with award-winning production talent to develop these projects and are excited to bring major new drama in HD to our customers," Turner Laing said. "Our strategy is to create must-see TV for our customers by developing dramas based on the work of critically acclaimed and highly successful authors."