Sky invests $20 mil in high-definition drama


LONDON -- BSkyB has unveiled its biggest commitment to high definition drama commissions, to date announcing a 10 million pound ($19.9 million) slate for calendar 08/09 Wednesday.

Building on the success of its series of HD fantasy dramas from Terry Pratchett, including "Hogfather" and the forthcoming "Colour of Magic," BSkyB managing director of entertainment Sophie Turner Laing announced three new projects that will premier on Sky One and Sky One HD in 08/09.

"Strike Back" to be produced by "The Queen" producer Andy Harries with Left Bank Pictures, will be a 6x60 adaptation of ex-SAS soldier Chris Ryan's latest thriller.

"Skellig" brings to the screen the imagination of award-winning children's novelist David Almond for the first time. The magical fantasy story about a ten-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 will be produced by Nick Hirschkorn at Feel Films.

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

Last Christmas, "The Hogfather" attracted the highest ever audience for a multi-channel commission excluding sport, winning an audience of 2.9 million viewers.

The second part in the series, "The Colour of Magic" starring David Jason, Sean Astin and Tim Curry, will premiere on Sky One and Sky One HD over the Easter weekend.

"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," said Turner Laing.

"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."