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C5 heads to Dallas in production drive

UK terrestrial Channel 5 will send Torchwood star John Barrowman to explore the origins of 1980s US soap Dallas as one of the first new commissions for its fledgling in-house production arm.

C5 Productions is developing the documentary ahead of the launch of US cablenet TNT’s updated version of the series in the UK later this year. Further details of Barrowman’s project will be announced in due course.

The new production unit, which will make around five projects every year, has also lined up cookery series Marco Pierre White’s Kitchen Wars and a clip show featuring pop stars and former X Factor contestants Jedward on its first slate.

Jeff Ford, C5’s director of programmes, said the move into production was “simply a matter of natural evolution” that would have little impact on its relationship with the indie sector.

“In launching a production arm, we are in-line with our competitors,” said Ford, speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild event in London yesterday. “If we can commission the best ideas no matter where they come from then surely that’s a good thing. We’re probably looking at a maximum of five shows a year through Channel 5 Productions.”

C5 has also commissioned UK prodco Popcorn to produce real crime series Killers Behind Bars, which will show the “true scale of murders committed by Britain’s most notorious serial killers,” Ford said.

The three-part series will air this summer.

C5’s flagship series The Gadget Show is also set to return to air this year with a new international flavour.

Though its run will be cut from 36 weeks a year to 16, and the number of presenters reduced to two, Ford said the North One-produced series has had its budget increased and would now escape its studio confines and tour the world to present new technology.

Ford said: “We’ve increased the ambition of the show. It’s going to be far more international. However, it still maintains at its heart what makes The Gadget Show so popular.

Meanwhile, he reconfirmed C5’s commitment to acquisitions and described the channel as “the home of the best of the US.”

The network currently airs NCIS and CSI, The Walking Dead and Law & Order, with ABC’s fantasy drama Once Upon A Time due on air this year alongside the return of Dallas.

“Our US imports continue to be a great success for us,” he said. “When we go to markets each year, we have the security and confidence in knowing if we truly believe a show will work, we have the backing of the (C5 owners) Northern & Shell cheque book.”

Earlier this week, C5 partnered with Canadian cablenet OLN and BBC America for a new travel series hosted by Lost and Lord of the Rings star Dominic Monaghan.

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