Sky U.K. Unveils Largest Slate Ever, Including 80 Originals

Courtesy of Sky
'Urban Myths: Joan Rivers and Barbra Streisand'

The pay TV giant, owned by Comcast, unveiled 10 latest commissions at a Wednesday evening event at London's Tate Modern with such stars as Maisie Williams and David Schwimmer.

Sky U.K., part of Comcast-owned European pay TV giant Sky, on Wednesday unveiled its 2020 programming slate, saying it was its largest ever, including 80 originals, up 25 percent from 2018, and a 40 percent increase in U.S. content.

During its "Up Next" showcase at the Tate Modern in London, the company touted "more commissions, more original series, more investment" and reinforced its commitment to bringing customers "the best in original, homegrown content alongside the best of U.S. TV." 

The event featured previews of new shows and news of 10 latest commissions, and trotted out such talent as Maisie Williams, David Schwimmer and Steve Coogan.

"In the 12 years I’ve been running Sky, I’ve never seen a lineup on screen that we are going to have in the next year or so," Sky group CEO Jeremy Darroch told the crowd at the museum. 

Sky has been expanding its original content offering with the help of its Sky Studios unit, with the planned development of Sky Studios Elstree near London expected to further contribute once it opens in 2022. Last summer, it said that it would double its spending on original fare under new owner Comcast by 2024. The increase in originals and U.S. programming this year comes in addition to aggregated content from the firm's partnerships with Netflix and the BBC, among others.

"2020 is going to be the best year yet for content on Sky — we have over 80 original series and 40 percent more U.S. shows, we have new channels like Sky Comedy, Sky Nature and Sky Documentaries launching and we are announcing 10 new commissions today," said Darroch. "In an increasingly competitive market, we keep pushing to give our customers what they want, all the best TV, all in one place.”

Said Sky U.K.’s managing director of content Zai Bennett: "In a world where there are more hours of content than ever, we want to make sure that we’re offering our customers the most high-end, engaging TV that quite simply blows them away. We’re creating and investing in our own world-class original content that sits perfectly alongside the best from the U.S. This year, we’ll be making more of our customers’ favorite shows than ever before."

The new programming unveiled Wednesday adds to original series that Sky previously announced for this year, including The Third Day (Jude Law, Naomie Harris), Breeders (Martin Freeman, Daisy Haggard), and The Trip to Greece (Coogan, Rob Brydon).

Key acquired shows for Sky in 2020 include The Plot Against America (Winona Ryder), The Undoing (Hugh Grant, Nicole Kidman), Run (executive produced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (Natalie Dormer).

Here is a look at the 10 original show commissions unveiled at Wednesday's event:

Intelligence, season two
The comedy about a British intelligence and security organization was created by and stars Nick Mohammed, alongside Schwimmer. Its first season kicks off next week. Said Schwimmer: "I am thrilled to continue to pretend to be important to national security."

Urban Myths, season four
The latest season of the show fictionalizing peculiar stories to have ever leaked out of Hollywood, the music industry and the worlds of art and culture will feature an episode called "Joan Rivers and Barbra Streisand," starring Katherine Ryan and Jessica Barden. "This episode is based on Joan Rivers’ recollections of a play she starred in with Barbra Streisand," Sky said. "Streisand has remained tight-lipped about the whole experience."

The Tail of the Curious Mouse (working title)
The story about how Roald Dahl met Beatrix Potter will star Dawn French (Absolutely Fabulous). 

Bloods
The paramedic comedy stars Samson Kayo (Timewasters) and Jane Horrocks (Absolutely Fabulous).

Safe Space
Greg Davies wrote and stars in the comedy as a demotivated small-time psychotherapist.

Sweetpea
The dark comic drama, written by BAFTA Breakthrough screenwriter Kirstie Swain, is adapted from the novel of the same name by C.J. Skuse.

You (working title)
The drama is written by Ben Chanan (The Missing) and based on the novel You by Zoran Drvenkar.

Redknapps’ Weekend Warm Up (working title)
The entertainment series will feature father-and-son duo Harry and Jamie Redknapp, known for their work as soccer coach and soccer player/commentator, respectively, as they team for their first TV project together alongside comedian Tom Davis.

Cobra, season two
The political drama, starring Robert Carlyle and Victoria Hamilton, will return for a second outing after becoming one of Sky One’s most successful drama series in recent years.

Brassic, season three
The hit comedy-drama set in Manchester will return for more after its second season, which is set to air in May.