Why Sky Living's manly makeover might make me watch

A raft of new shows means the satellite channel could soon be a place men can tune in with their partners without feeling embarrassed, says Mark Jefferies

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Why Sky Living's manly makeover might make me watch
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Mark Jeffries

I've defintely not been the target audience, and if I am honest, it's not a channel I have watched a lot of in the past. But it looks like things are changing at Sky Living and I can see some real potential.

New boss Antonia Hurtford-Jones has been in the job five months and outlined her plans for the channel at a swish launch in London this morning.

She said she still wants women to adore Living, but she also hopes new shows she is making will be things “men want to watch” and that couples will sit down and view together.

Antonia also insisted that although they are very much a part of the schedule, the channel will not be all about “weddings, diets and fashion”.

To back this up there is big budget drama Dracula, Living's first co-commission with a US Network starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers which is likely to be as successful as Elementary has been for the channel. The US version of Sherlock is something both sexes can enjoy and has been pulling in consolidated audiences of over a million.

But what interested me more were the five drama pilots dubbed the 'Reckless' season and six comedy pilots being made under the theme 'Love Matters'. This will mean lots of fresh new ideas on screen, a bit like when Channel 4 does Comedy Lab, and should mean Living gets some decent series in the future with some trial and error.

A show reel revealed that the drama pilots include The Last Witch, featuring Katherine Kelly, and comedy pilots starring Peep Show's Isy Suttie and Him & Her's Sarah Solemani.

Perhaps the one series likely to get most blokes excited is Trying Again. The eight-part comedy was co-created by Oscar-nominated writer Simon Blackwell who also worked on The Thick Of It, Peep Show and Veep. The other co-creator is Chris Addison from Mock The Week and, whilst casting is yet to be announced, this sounds like something which the BBC would have loved to screen.

Stuart Murphy, Sky entertainment channel director, said it “feels like Living's time” having already given Sky1 and other channels a makeover. And if they carry on like this I'll be watching some of these programmes even when I'm not sat next to a female.

Mark Jefferies is Deputy TV Editor at The Mirror 

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