June 25, 2009

BBC Worldwide Announces Drama Co-Productions With WGBH/MASTERPIECE For Emma And Cranford 2

BBC Dramas Sharpe’s Peril, Sharpe’s Challenge, Small Island, Framed and 39 Steps also slated for MASTERPIECE in 2010

New York, NY BBC Worldwide Sales and Distribution and WGBH today announced co-productions of two star-studded dramas: the beloved classic, Emma, and the sequel to BAFTA-winning and Emmy-nominated drama Cranford,Cranford 2. Both programs will make their U.S. premiere in early 2010 on WGBH’s MASTERPIECE CLASSIC on PBS.

Commented Susanna Pollack, SVP, Sales & Distribution and Children’s, BBC Worldwide, Americas, “Following Cranford’ssuccess in the U.S. and UK, we are excited to be working with WGBH again to bring its sequel, Cranford 2, as well as the Jane Austen’s classical tale, Emma, to audiences next year.”

“Our viewers have been clamoring for more Jane Austen and more Judi Dench,” said MASTERPIECE executive producer Rebecca Eaton “These new productions add up to a very strong MASTERPIECE CLASSIC season in 2010.”

Emma (four hours)
Romola Garai (Atonement, Daniel Deronda), Sir Michael Gambon (Cranford, Gosford Park), and Jonny Lee Miller (Byron, Eli Stone, Trainspotting) star in this BBC and WGBH co-production which follows the dire consequences of Emma’s failed matchmaking schemes. Michael Gambon plays Emma’s affectionate, neurotic father who allows her to be mistress of their household. Jonny Lee Miller—who stars in MASTERPIECE’s Endgame, premiering in October) plays Mr. Knightley, Emma’s shrewd and attractive neighbor, who provides a welcome counterpart to headstrong Emma. Fresh and funny, this perceptive adaptation by Sandy Welch (Our Mutual Friend, Jane Eyre, North and South) brings Jane Austen’s comic masterpiece to life.

Cranford 2 (2 x 90)
The BAFTA-winning and Emmy-nominated drama, Cranford, starring Dame Judi Dench  (Notes on a Scandal, Shakespeare in Love), Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake, Fingersmith), Francesca Annis (Jane Eyre, Reckless), and Julia McKenzie (Miss Marple), returns as a two-part sequel, Cranford 2. The original drama chronicled a small Cheshire market town in the early 1840s on the cusp of great change.The BBC and WGBH co-production in association with Chestermead Ltd, picks up the story in 1844. New faces coming to the close-knit town include Jonathan Pryce (Pirates of the Caribbean), Tom Hiddleston (Wallander), and Tim Curry (Spamalot). Based on the novels by Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford 2 is written by Heidi Thomas (I Capture the Castle, Madame Bovary).

Other upcoming BBC/WGBH co-productions include Small Island and Framed, and WGBH has also acquired Sharpe’s Peril, Sharpe’s Challenge, and 39 Steps from BBC Worldwide. All are scheduled to air on MASTERPIECE CLASSIC in early 2010 on PBS.

Small Island (2 x 90)
Adapted from the award-winning 2004 novel, this mini-series stars Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean, White Teeth, 28 Days Later) as Hortense, a young ambitious Jamaican woman thrust into the grit of 1940s post-war London.  A Ruby Television production in association with AL Films for BBC, coproduced with WGBH and made on location in Northern Ireland with the assistance of Northern Ireland Screen.

Framed(1 x 90)
Adapted from Frank Cottrell Boyce’s (God on Trial) children’s novel, Framed stars Trevor Eve (Waking the Dead) as a present-day National Gallery curator who travels from London to a Welsh village to oversee the storage of priceless art. A BBC/WGBH BOSTON co-production.

Sharpe’s Peril(2 x 90)
Sharpe’s Challenge(2 x 90)
Shot entirely in India, these two installments of the award-winning series, Sharpe, star Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings, Troy, Golden Eye) as Bernard Cornwell’s title character. Sharpe’s Peril is aCeltic Films Ent./Picture Palace Films/Duke Street Films co-production in association with Harper Collins. Sharpe’s Challenge is aCeltic Films and Picture Place production.

The 39 Steps(1 x 90)
An adaptation of the popular John Buchanadventure novel, set on the eve of World War I. Filled with romance and humor, the 90-minute drama stars MASTERPIECE favorite Rupert Penry-Jones (Persuasion) as mining engineer Richard Hannay caught up in a conspiracy following the death of a British spy found in his apartment. A BBC Production.