Channel 5 has unveiled plans to use the money saved by axing Big Brother to invest significantly in original commissions and quality drama in the coming months.
The channel unveiled a slate of original programmes on Wednesday including a four-part thriller called 15 Days which begins with a brutal murder – then unwinds 15 days to reveal the truth behind the killing. The show, based on the original Welsh-language production 35 Diwrnod (35 Days) is expected to air next year.
Also for next year, the broadcaster has also announced a 10-part drama for the 5Star channel set in a women’s prison and called Clink.
It will show a feature length murder mystery inspired by a real life murder case from the 1920s. The new drama, currently untitled and not yet cast, is made by Darlow Smithson Productions which made C5’s Crooked House, the feature length Agatha Christie adaptation which starred Glenn Close, Gillian Anderson and Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks (main pic).
The broadcaster has also bought the rights to Irish drama Blood, a 6-part psychological thriller starring Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar.
The news was announced at a Broadcasting Press Guild breakfast with Bob Bakish, the chief executive of C5 owners Viacom, who explained the company’s decision to ditch Big Brother.
He said the “time was right to take the next step” for the channel and said it offered a chance to showcase more original content on Channel 5.
“That meant taking that Big Brother money essentially and spending it on original commissions,” Bakish said.
“This year we won channel of the year [at the Edinburgh Television Festival] and it is a clear indication that the Channel 5 product has come a long way.”
He said it was “super cool” having talent such as Michael Palin and Jeremy Vine on C5. Palin is presenting a series of travel programmes and Vine is the new presenter of the morning TV show which replaced The Wright Stuff.
When asked by RadioTimes.com whether he thought Big Brother would have a future on another channel, Bakish said: “Competition and reality TV isn’t close to resembling dead. It’s a vibrant area of programing. This is a decision we made based on the evolution of Channel 5… I don’t want that to be interpreted as any broader judgement on Big Brother.”
Asked whether he thought Big Brother would be bought by a new channel he said: “It’s a pretty expensive show and we thought there was an opportunity to create more value for Channel 5. Someone else could see that as a great opportunity with one big decision to pick up a piece of audience.”