BBC First will run on the Foxtel pay platform and is being positioned as ‘the new home of premium British drama and comedy in Australia’. It is a new move for BBC Worldwide that has previously concentrated its efforts on programme sales, leaving its own branded channels to reruns. British content from outside the BBC will also be included.
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.’
With a nod to the appeal of DVD boxed sets and binge viewing, there are plans to offer marathon sessions of new programmes.
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.
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.
Australia is the first territory to run BBC First, one of three new global brands announced by the BBC last October.
There will also be local content. Banished, written by Jimmy McGovern, has been co-commissioned with BBC Two in the UK and produced by RSJ Films/See-Saw Films. The epic seven part series is loosely inspired by events in 1788 when Britain established a penal colony in Australia.
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