UKTV Launches Free Digital Drama Channel

Pride and Prejudice Colin Firth H

The network operator owned by BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks will include Colin Firth's turn in TV's "Pride and Prejudice," among other classic British dramas, on the channel, which rolls out in July.

LONDON -- UKTV, the multi-channel network operator owned by BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks Interactive, is boosting its channels by launching a new one, Drama onto Freeview, the U.K.'s digital free-to-air platform.

The TV network said it aims to use the channel to showcase British dramas and is aiming to roll it out in July this year. Among the shows to air will be Oscar winner Colin Firth's turn as Mr. Darcy in the acclaimed TV mini-series Pride and Prejudice, based on Jane Austen's famous novel.

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Raiding the archives to fuel the content for the channel, UKTV also said it will also offer viewers a chance to see Catherine Zeta-Jones in Catherine Cookson's The Cinder Path and a swashbuckling Sean Bean in Sharpe.

Other shows include Tipping the Velvet, Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Cranford and Lark Rise to Candleford.

UKTV Controller Emma Tennant said: "Drama is targeted at a different audience demographic than our other highly successful free-to-air channels, Dave, Yesterday and Really. The channel is aimed at people who simply love drama and want to watch critically acclaimed shows that have absolutely defined the landscape of British television."

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The channel is the first to be launched as part of UKTV's portfolio since the introduction of Really in May 2009.

The rollout comes hot on the heels of growth for the UKTV network, which increased its share by 10 percent in 2012 and launched its own on-demand players.