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Sky unveils biggest ever drama slate

Sky has unveiled the biggest drama slate in its history, with a string of new commissions across Sky Atlantic, Sky Arts and Sky Living, including a four-parter about James Bond author Ian Fleming.

The drama boost is part of Sky’s commitment to invest £600m (US$960m) a year on home-grown programming by 2014 and also features the return of Sky Arts’ drama and comedy strand Playhouse Presents, a season of five original dramas for Sky Living, and as a two-part conclusion to Sky1 drama Mad Dogs.

Fleming (wt) will be produced by Ecosse Films for Sky Atlantic and focuses on Fleming’s time during the Second World War running naval counter intelligence missions against the Nazis.

The series is due to go into production early this year, will shoot in the UK and Budapest and air later this year. Mat Whitecross (The Road to Guantanamo) directs, John Brownlow (Sylvia) writes, and it stars Dominic Cooper (The History Boys) in the title role.

The second season of Playhouse Presents for Sky Arts will air from March and feature a long line of one-off dramas and comedies that will include directorial debuts from actors Idris Elba (Luther, The Wire), Matt Smith (Doctor Who) and Marc Warren (Hustle).

The six original dramas (all 1×30′) set to appear as part of the series include four produced by Sprout Pictures: Hey Diddly Dee is a dark comedy drama directed by Marc Warren and starring Kylie Minogue; the Matt Smith-directed Cargese about adolescent love and loss; Idris Elba’s Pavement Psychologist, a “taught and sexy drama”; and Union Square, which is based on a short story by Leonard Francavilla.

The other two dramas in the series, which join a string of comedies, are: Mr Understood, an Eleven Film production created by Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry; and Nightshift, a Cajun Pictures and Company Pictures co-production about cops on night patrol.

Sky Living’s The Reckless Season will feature five dramas from different female screenwriters. Three have been commissioned so far: Talking To The Dead (2×60′), a Bonafide Films production about a newly qualified detective on her first murder case; Rubenesque (1×60′) a Kudos and Pirate copro about a female football referee who becomes a plus-size model; and The Last Witch (1×60′) a Red Productions drama about two modern day witches in modern day Britain.

The three dramas were written by Gwyneth Hughs (The Girl), Annie Griffin (Fresh Meat) and Sally Wainwright (Scott and Bailey) respectively. The other two dramas in the season are yet to be commissioned.

Finally, Mad Dogs The Finale (2×60′) is the last instalment of the Sky1 drama. The Left Bank Pictures show is due to shoot in February and will air after the third season goes out in spring.

Announcing the drama slate at a Broadcasting Press Guild event, Sky’s head of drama, Anne Mensah said: “I’ve got a team that is about all sorts of different flavours and feelings, and that excites me. I think the point of being at Sky is to be unique – if you do it like everybody else does it, you won’t offer the customers anything worth paying for.”

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