|BBC America's fall schedule has been significantly retooled to compete against American networks.
Long a bastion of "vintage" reruns and daytime reality shows, BBC America has been undergoing a gradual retool since Garth Ancier—who has also been president of NBC, FOX and the WB—took over in February.
Over the back half of the 2006-2007 season, he ushered in the concept of "themed" programming blocks, in which certain nights of the week offered a fare suitable for a particular kind of demographic.
This approach will see even greater flower this fall, when Steven Moffat's Jekyll makes its premiere to the American audience that partially paid for it. The show is a bit of an experiement for Ancier: the first in what may be a string of BBCA-BBC1 co-productions. It will debut on Saturday, August 4th, at 8pm—sharing Saturday nights with Torchwood for a part of the fall.
Ancier has also ordered an end to nighttime newsfeeds from London, preferring instead to air an original hour of news direct from the Washington bureau of BBC News. Since the BBC is currently the fifth-most popular source of news for Americans, Ancier believes the organization can be leveraged to report directly about topics of interest to American viewers. The move is particularly interesting for its timing: BBC America will now be set to offer its own reporting on the 2008 US Presidential Election.
Details of the fall lineup so far revealed include:
Monday: fresh British crime dramas (unspecified)
Tuesday: MI-5 and Top Gear
Wednesday: Footballers' Wives and Hotel Babylon
Thursday: Dragon's Den
Friday: Waking the Dead and Silent Witness
Saturday: Jekyll and Torchwood
This schedule follows on the heels of a spring that has seen the release of several current UK dramas including Robin Hood and Hex, amongst others.
Ancier, the best-credentialed American talent ever hired by BBCA, got his start in television as a senior assistant to Brandon Tartikoff at NBC during the 1980s, and played a role in building the 20-year dominance of NBC on Thursday nights that started with The Cosby Show, Family Ties and Cheers. From there he moved to FOX at that network's inception in 1987, where he was head of programming under Barry Diller. He comes to BBCA most recently from The WB, where he served as co-chairman until the channel merged with Paramount to become The CW.
Thanks to the good folks at Torchwood TV for tipping us off to this story, originally reported by Hollywood Today.