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Sky One commits major funding to UK HD dramas

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Sky One is to plough millions of pounds into the production of original high definition UK dramas following the success it has had with its adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s The Hogfather.

The channel has announced an undisclosed eight-figure commitment to HD drama in 2008 and 2009, which it claims is the one of the largest from any UK broadcaster and is the biggest in Sky’s history.

As part of its slate of new programmes, the broadcaster has announced a six-part series based on Chris Ryan’s book Strike Back, which will be made by Left Bank Pictures, the company formed by award-winning producer of The Queen, Andy Harries.

Sky One will also be bringing the works of author David Almond to the screen for the first time, with a dramatisation of his children’s book Skellig. The programme is being made by Feel Films.

Meanwhile, Sky One is to turn Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal into a television drama, following the ratings success it enjoyed with The Hogfather, starring David Jason.

The show achieved the highest ever audience for a multi-channel commission, with 2.86 million viewers.

Going Postal, to be shown over two 120-minute specials in 2009, will be the third of Pratchett’s Discworld series to be turned into a drama by Sky, following a dramatisation of Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic, which is to be screened over Easter weekend.

Sky said these dramas were the first to be announced, but more would be green-lit for development in the coming months.

The broadcaster’s managing director Sophie Turner Laing said: “Our philosophy has been to bring the imagination of critically-acclaimed authors and their popular tales to the screen using talented, established producers empowered by High Definition. As the success of the Hogfather proved there is an audience for quality, stand-out drama and I believe that these new dramas will wholly compliment our entertainment, factual, event and US programming in the schedule.”

The 2008/9 slate of dramas has been driven by Turner Laing with Sky One director of programmes Richard Woolfe and drama commissioner Elaine Pyke.

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