Season III for Henry VIII

Showtime quickly renews 'Tudors'

Showtime has given "The Tudors" a third-season pickup, just a few weeks after the drama series' sophomore bow.

Production will begin June 16 in Dublin, Ireland, with series star Jonathan Rhys Meyers set to return as King Henry VIII. The number of episodes has not yet been determined for Season 3, which will follow the king as he weds third queen Jane Seymour (Anita Briem) and then Anne of Cleves (still to be cast).

The announcement comes after Showtime recently reiterated its commitment to original programming. Following the news that the network wouldn't be renewing its output deals with Viacom-owned Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM — which now will be launching a new TV channel and VOD service in fall 2009 — Showtime is expected to invest some of the money earmarked for output deals into more original series. Along with "Tudors," Showtime originals include "Dexter" and "Weeds."

" 'The Tudors' is now a fixture for us at Showtime, and we're on our way to completing the entire saga of all six wives of Henry VIII," Showtime president of entertainment Robert Greenblatt said.

This season, "Tudors" is averaging 912,000 total viewers per first-run episode, which is on par with its freshman run (964,000), according to Live + 7 data from Nielsen Media Research. Season 3 premieres in 2009.

In addition, Showtime said "Tudors" is one of CBS Home Entertainment's top-selling titles. Both the series and Rhys Meyers earned Golden Globe nominations this year.

"Tudors," an Ireland-Canada co-production presented in association with Peach Arch Entertainment, is written by creator Michael Hirst, who also executive produces with Morgan O'Sullivan for Octagon Films, Benjamin Silverman and Teri Weinberg for Reveille Prods., Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan for Working Title Films and Sheila Hockin.