Axed BBC1 drama Ripper Street could receive a last minute reprieve, with producers confirming they are in discussions about landing a deal with rival platforms.
Sources at production company Tiger Aspect, who make the show, have confirmed that the Amazon-owned streaming service LOVEFiLM is leading the race to secure a third series of the programme that stars Matthew Macfadyen and Jerome Flynn as late 19th Century London detectives.
If the deal gets the go ahead it would represent an astonishing lifeline to a show which was axed from BBC1 by new controller Charlotte Moore last week.
Under the terms currently being discussed, a third series could still end up on BBC1, with the BBC believed to be in line to win a secondary rights deal to show it soon after it airs online. This would mean that BBC1 would show the series after it aired on LOVEFiLM or whoever else secures the rights. The new distributors would also be expected to fund most of the production costs.
A BBC source confirmed the details and said that it did not represent a U-turn by the Corporation which is understood to have decided that the show was not getting enough viewers to warrant the commission of a third series.
“It is not a back track – we would still get to show it but at a reduced rate which represents value for money for licence fee payers,” a source told RadioTimes.com
The Corporation issued a statement which said: “The BBC is looking at partnerships that could enable Ripper Street to return but at better value to licence fee payers.”
Tiger Aspect also confirmed that it was in discussions about the series.
A spokesman said: “The creative team have great vision and high ambition for future series of Ripper Street. It would of course be marvellous to find a route to make these plans reality.”
A source for the production company said that LOVEFiLM were leading the race but that they believed that other companies were being spoken to.
The BBC said earlier this month said that it had decided not to commission a third series of Ripper Street because it "didn't bring the audience we hoped and in order to make room for creative renewal and new ideas it won't be returning".
However the news was met with dismay from fans who launched an online petition attracting more than10,000 signatories.
A RadioTimes.com poll also found that 92% of respondents were also opposed to the axing of the drama.