Sky One boss wants original sci-fi and fantasy drama

News Louisa Mellor 29 Nov 2013 - 07:38

Sky is looking to commission original UK sci-fi and fantasy drama. This is good news...

At last night's Moonfleet launch, Sky One controller Adam Macdonald announced that the channel was keen to commission original UK sci-fi and fantasy drama in the coming years. It's a sentiment echoed in a recent Broadcast interview, in which Macdonald said, "quick-witted science fiction plays well with Sky audiences, and I’m intrigued by fantasy worlds that have layer upon layer of lore". If that intrigue makes it onto the screen, it could play out well for genre fans across UK audiences, and not just Sky subscribers.

We've seen it happen countless times; one channel enjoys a success, and another attempts to match it. It happened between the BBC and ITV with The Paradise and Mr SelfridgeDownton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs, as just a few (not to mention the twin dancing, singing, and baking talent shows that pop up overnight, one after the other, like a ring of mushrooms after rain). If Sky were to invest in some proper UK sci-fi and fantasy and make a go of it then, the likelihood is that other channels will rediscover their own taste for the genres. The result: more original sci-fi and fantasy on our TVs.

Macdonald's words are an increasingly popular thing to say in TV-land, and very likely a response to the brain-fizzing ratings of shows like Game Of Thrones or The Walking Dead, and the box-office success of comic book sci-fi. At this year's Edinburgh International Television Festival, BBC 2 controller Janice Hadlow told Den of Geek:

“I would be interested in thinking about those territories [sci-fi and fantasy] for BBC 2. I think it's an area that could do quite well for us and there a number of different things we're thinking about at the moment. I think it's a territory we haven't been into much in the past and we should be thinking about – longer term – what that sort of programming looks like for BBC 2. I think it would look different to BBC 1. Do you go along the lines of an adaptation or an original piece of work? There's a lot to be done about it but I think it's an interesting territory.”

We couldn't agree more.


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I have a great idea for a show.

It's about characters who travel through time and space. One is a handsome young man, a hero type. Then there's the handsome well dressed heroine age about 30. Both of these are teachers.

The main characted is a more mature man, he's a granddad type with a mysterious nature. We could add a fourth character if needs be. Perhaps she's the related in some way to the more mature gent. Neither of them are from Eath, but we won't find out about their true origins for a good 6-7 series.

I think if they replace the actors every few years, they could milk about 50 years out of it.

The broken empire series could be great one to adapt on tv

How about adapting the Riftwar Saga by Raymond E Fiest

How about more Discworld Sky? There's a fantasy world with layer upon layer of lore for you... and you've already started doing stuff on that!

And whatever happened to the mooted City Watch series?

How bout Dark Materials - great

And please put these shows on BBC America, instead of showing things like Star Trek The Next Generation (which I love, but is already an American show). I have BBC America so I can watch British shows....

More like "Sky One boss wants original sci-fi and fantasy drama and will cancel them all in their first seasons and say they tried but no one 'was interested.'"

If BBC America was faithful to the BBC, it'd have way more Danish imports like the Killing and Borgen, so I always find this American complaint kinda amusing.

Not to mention Unseen Academicals. Yeah, if they can pull off the same style of adaptation they did for Going Postal then this would be awesome!

Another great prospect. Unhindered by the sensitivities of some sections of the American public (which was partly what killed the films) this could do really well.

Yeah they tried to make a show like that in the 1990s, didn't take. Best not to try again.

Iain M. Bank for the SF. You could spin a decent series out of the characters of Cheradenine Zakalwe and Diziet Sma. He's the fish out of water special ops fixer with a devastating secret, she's his domineering and condescending handler who can't help but love her primitive human weapon. Together they and a camp suitcase robot bring down the society of the week amid smoldering sexual tension and angst. I'd watch it.

Fantasy would have to be the works Joe Abercrombie. The First Law could be a hilarious and grotesquely dramatic series if handled right.

I'd say both of these are good options for Sky. British in attitude but not parochially so, painted on broad canvasses but with characters and situations that lend themselves to the more domestic sphere of TV (and TV budgets) and with a variety of plot and character to attract a broader audience than the genres usually manage.

I'm just looking forward to the BBC adaptation of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. There's been no news on that for quite some time...

"Rebecca's World" by Terry Nation is a charming book that really should have been made into a TV series long ago.

BBC Radio had the same approach with Radio 7 - The Seventh Dimension! - lots of great ideas there.

Michael Moorcocks eternal champion series...

Michael Moorcock's Elric series is overdue for an adaptation.

One word. PERN!

One word. PERN!

just adapt sci-fi masters books. there are tons of sf/fantasy books from 2nd tier (but no less talented) sf writers whose books deserve screen time.

This. Although apparently it's been in development hell for a couple of decades. No getting away from dragon CGI costs in this!

Yes. Just yes.

Bring back Robin of Sherwood with the original cast - lots of material in older outlaws

Dont hold your breath on this one...

Read all the Discworld novels, never seen any of the adaptations. Are they good? And if so, which ones?

Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy wouldn't be too expensive to make, at least until the last book...

My own feeling, which seems to have been backed up by a vague consensus online, was that Hogfather was decent but hard to follow (especially if you haven't read the books), Colour of Magic fell a bit flat, but Going Postal was an outstanding tour de force, even for non-Discworlders.
And that's just the Sky adaptations. Cosgrove Hall did some animations of Wyrd Sisters and Soul Music with great voice actor casting. Well worth seeing if you're a fan.

Thanks for that. A strange list of choices they've made from the 40 or so books...

I felt so too, especially Hogfather which requires some previous reading to know many of the characters.
Would still love to see Mort or Guards! Guards! on screen, though Graham Higgins did a great job turning them into
graphic novels.

Hogfather was not too bad, Going Postal was the best and Colour of Magic suffered from bad casting - Rincewind should be a lot younger, taller and wirier than a 60 something David Jason.

And the animations are great - more faithful than the live action ones.

Throw the money at Ron Howard so he can finally do the Dark Tower properly.

Yeah, it's amusing...

Actually when I saw Nigel Planer in Hogfather I thought they'd nailed it - until I realised that of course that couldn't possibly be Rincewind.
We all love David Jason, but you're right, that really shouldn't have been his role. He worked best as Albert.

Rhys Ifans would be my choice for Rincewind - he always struck me as being more than a little based on Shaggy from Scooby Doo.


How about a group of historians pair up with a scientist in present Day when they soon are sucked into a portal through time and space taking them to a fantasy realm - trying desperately to return home they must discover the connection between this realm and Earth.

There would also be a subplot of the characters beginning to become attached to the fantasy realm due to being absorbed into that dimension - leaving the group split-up at the end of the first season.

Season Two would introduce a main Wizard villain who is revealed to be an old research partner of the scientist member of the group - who has been advancing his technology in the fantasy realm.

This stuff writes itself - pay me and I'll write one for you :L

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