BBC1 has commissioned a new 13-part drama series for Saturday nights produced by the creators of Merlin and an adaptation of PD James’ book, Death Comes to Pemberley.
The series were announced today by Ben Stephenson, controller of drama commissioning at the BBC, who also revealed there will be third series of Call the Midwife and Death in Paradise.
Stephenson said the shows form part of his aim to build a “BBC drama department that has an enormous international reputation”.
“That means making us more British than ever – it is about applying the Danny Boyle vision to our work – a bold, adventurous, authorial approach that exports because of its Britishness not despite it. A BBC that feels inspiringly creative – where there is a buzz and creativity and anything-goes optimism,” he said.
Saturday night drama Atlantis has been created and written by Howard Overman, whose credits include Misfits and Vexed, and will be broadcast later this year.
It will be executive produced by Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy, two of the creators of Merlin, and will be filmed in Wales and Morocco.
Death Comes to Pemberley is written by Juliette Towhidi and is being made by Origin Pictures. Origin is also making a three-part adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, written by Emma Frost.
Meanwhile, BBC1 will also broadcast The Interceptor, a series written by Tony Saint that follows “a top secret, state-of-the-art law enforcement team whose unswerving mission is to hunt down some of Britain’s most dangerous and ruthless criminals”, and Breakdown, an eight-part series about a child’s abduction. This has been written by Jack Williams and Harry Williams.
Stephenson has also commissioned Gwyneth Hughes to pen Remember Me, a three-part serial made by Mammoth Screen.
For BBC2, Stephenson has commissioned two new dramas from David Hare – Turks And Caicos, and Salting the Battlefield – which form part of the writer’s trilogy about MI5 that began with 2011′s Page Eight.
BBC4, meanwhile, will screen Burton And Taylor, a 90-minute single drama written by William Ivory that will star Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter as Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
The BBC described this as a “drama about one of the most fascinating, glamorous and tempestuous relationships”.
Announcing the commissions, Stephenson said he wanted television drama to have the same affect on viewers as theatre does on its audiences.
“When you go to the Royal Opera House or the National Theatre there is a buzz in the theatre before the curtain goes up. That buzz comes not just from what you are about to see but because the space, the history, the values of the place, add up to something extraordinary. It’s that electric crackle of excitement that I want to create. I want to make BBC drama a cultural institution – a touchstone for quality and modernity with all the excitement and glamour of a curtain going up,” he said.