No matter how appreciative we are of the History Channel bringing us the American version of Top Gear, there is still something that makes the UK Top Gear better than the rest. While we will probably never get Jeremy Clarkson, James May or Richard… actually, wait – we’re getting Richard Hammond in the states?
That’s right. BBC America’s GM Perry Simon announced today that he has approved two original series for original U.S. production including Would You Rather with Graham Norton and Hard Drive with Richard Hammond.
In Hard Drive, Richard Hammond will travel the U.S. and compete with local experts driving some of America’s toughest and most extraordinary vehicles. The executive producers for BBC Worldwide Productions are Rob Fox, Elli Hakami and Jane Tranter.
We’re looking forward to it.
Check out the press release after the jump.
BBC AMERICA ANNOUNCES TWO ORIGINAL UNSCRIPTED SERIES AND ITS FIRST DEVELOPMENT SLATE
– Channels biggest stars to make U.S. series –
New York – BBC AMERICA’S General Manager, Perry Simon, today green lit two original series – Would You Rather with Graham Norton (wt) and Hard Drive with Richard Hammond (wt) – and announced an initial slate of unscripted development, kicking off the channel’s first major steps into original U.S. production.
The move comes on the back of BBC AMERICA’s highest rated quarter ever. In second quarter 2011, the channel beat all previous records and was up 30% year-on-year in prime and 31% in total day*.
Building on the popularity of the channel’s core unscripted program brands – such as Top Gear, Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and The Graham Norton Show – the slate aims to expand on the talent and subject-matter BBC AMERICA viewers are responding to.
Simon commented: “Top Gear, Gordon Ramsay and Graham Norton continue to deliver ratings and strong ad revenue. It makes sense to offer our viewers even more of what they love about the channel by developing compatible original programs featuring some of our biggest stars. But this is just the start. Our development team, Richard De Croce, Rachel Smith and Erin Jontow, is already working on the next raft of titles including BBC AMERICA’s first original scripted series.”
Simon’s first original series pick-up on the unscripted side features host and comedian Graham Norton, who has entertained BBC AMERICA audiences for many years with his trademark irreverence and ballsy style of interviewing. Norton’s new show is Would You Rather with Graham Norton (wt) (13 x 30), an all new original comedy game show that tests the wits of the best U.S. comics. Shot in New York, it’s produced by So Television and executive produced by Graham Norton, Graham Stuart and Jim Biederman. It will premiere later this year as part of BBC AMERICA’s recently launched comedy franchise, The Ministry of Laughs.
Top Gear has consistently rated as one of BBC AMERICA’s most successful shows. Now Top Gear host Richard Hammond will star in a brand new original series called Hard Drive with Richard Hammond (wt) (6 x 60). Produced by BBC Worldwide Productions and based on the BBC format, World’s Toughest Driving Tests, it features Hammond traveling the U.S. and competing with local experts driving some of America’s toughest and most extraordinary vehicles. The executive producers for BBC Worldwide Productions are Rob Fox, Elli Hakami and Jane Tranter.
In development, BBC AMERICA has a pilot with another Top Gear presenter, James May. James May’s Man Lab U.S. is produced by Plum Pictures and based on May’s successful British format of the same name. In the U.S. version, James comes to America and teams up with an American sidekick in order to help his transatlantic brethren rediscover and relearn the skills that define what “being a man” is all about. Executive Producers for Plum Pictures are Will Daws and Stuart Cabb.
AUTO Biography (wt), produced by Reveille, takes a ride down memory lane to track down the lost history of an exceptional vintage car. It’s Who Do You Think You Are? for cars as the host traces a vehicle’s family tree and meets the previous owners along the way while the vehicle is simultaneously restored and refurbished by our resident garage. The restored car will be reunited with one unsuspecting previous owner. The executive producer for Reveille is Heather Schuster and co-executive producer is Matt O’Brien.
Battlemodo, produced by True Entertainment in association with Gawker Media and its tech site Gizmodo.com is a field-based, hosted hour that takes Gizmodo’s recommendation and testing techniques into the real world with epic battles between two cutting edge products that reveal once and for all which is best. Executive producers are Glenda Hersh and Steven Weinstock from True Entertainment and Gaby Darbyshire from Gawker Media.
On the competitive food front, BBC AMERICA follows up on the success of its Gordon Ramsay programming with No Kitchen Required. This single episode format drops four chefs into some of the world’s most remote locations and challenges them to create a meal for the local community, putting their own unique spin on native ingredients. Produced by Notional, it features award-winning New York chef Michael Psilakis, who also serves as producer. The on-screen talent includes chefs Madison Cowan, Kayne Raymond and Dominque Crenn. Executive producers for Notional are Chachi Senior, Dave Noll and Cleve Keller.
The channel has also ordered a one hour special/back door pilot of Shock Therapy, produced by BBC Worldwide Productions and adapted from the BBC UK format, Fat & Fatter. The special aims to help addicted young people by pairing them with an extreme version of themselves in order to “shock” them to change their lives and habits for the better. Izzie Pick Ashcroft and Jane Tranter are executive producers.
– By: Omar Rana