From August, BBC First on Foxtel will be the new home of premium British drama and comedy in Australia, showcasing the best award-winning, world-renowned programmes and talent in one place for the very first time.
BBC First offers programmes with a uniquely British perspective – stories that challenge, immerse and entertain, as well as celebrate humanity in all its fascinating complexity. From features to sweeping series and every configuration in between, BBC First will give its audience more exceptional British shows than ever before, many that would not otherwise make it to Australia, and their viewing experience will always be ad-break free. There will also be the opportunity to marathon-view great new shows, with programme stacking a special feature in the BBC First schedule.
Launch titles include recent British hits The Musketeers and Peaky Blinders along with The Politician’s Husband, single drama Burton and Taylor and the new Alan Partridge mockumentaries. Talent from Helena Bonham Carter, Daniel Radcliffe and David Tennant to Ricky Gervais, Steve Coogan and Dawn French are all lined up to appear on the channel; while off screen talent, including Andrew Davies, Jimmy McGovern and Paula Milne, who are renowned for creating groundbreaking series, are also behind some of the forthcoming titles. Big returning series, including Call The Midwife and New Tricks, are already secured for the channel from 2015 as they enter production for series four and series twelve respectively. As new dramas and comedies hit TV screens in the UK, they will be available in Australia on BBC First faster than ever before.
BBC First offers Australian viewers the chance to see British drama singles and short series that would not otherwise make it to Foxtel, such as Playhouse Presents – a star-studded collection of contemporary one-offs featuring leading talent both on and off the screen. In addition, none of the programmes on BBC First will be available on terrestrial television for at least 12 months.
Australia is the first territory to launch BBC First, one of three new global brands announced by BBC Worldwide in October 2013. It will also benefit from the extra investment BBC Worldwide has pledged for content, an additional £30 million across the company for a range of genres, taking BBC Worldwide’s total content investment commitment to £200 million pa from 2014/15.
It was recently announced that Banished, written by Jimmy McGovern, will be the first local production for BBC First. Co-commissioned with BBC Two in the UK and produced by RSJ Films/See-Saw Films, this epic seven part series is loosely inspired by events in 1788 when Britain established a penal colony in Australia.
Jon Penn, Managing Director of BBC Worldwide ANZ said: “The BBC has always been pioneering and the launch of BBC First in Australia continues in this spirit, offering something totally unique to the market. British drama and comedy has a world-renowned reputation for being clever, complex and immensely enjoyable, attracting top talent on and off the screen. For the first time in Australia, all the very best new British dramas and comedies will be available in one place, giving viewers the opportunity to indulge and immerse themselves in world class creativity.”
Richard Freudenstein, Foxtel Chief Executive said: ‘The partnership between Foxtel and the BBC marks a significant milestone in Australian television. BBC First will enable our customers to see every major new BBC series first on Foxtel. This further consolidates our brilliant offering for subscribers and our pledge to bring the best television from around the world to Foxtel homes.”
BBC First joins existing BBC channels – UKTV, BBC Knowledge, CBeebies and BBC World News – on the Foxtel platform from August. It will also be available on Foxtel GO and in high definition.