License article

Ricky Gervais, David Tennant shows launch new BBC pay TV channel

Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, David Tennant, Ricky Gervais and Steve Coogan are some of the A-list acting talent to feature on new pay TV channel BBC First.

The channel, which will fast-track BBC dramas and comedy, is to launch on Foxtel in August with the pledge "first, fast and uninterrupted".

Upcoming highlights include The Politician's Husband, about the balance of power in a political marriage, featuring the high wattage talents of Emily Watson and David Tennant.

Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West star in one-off drama Burton & Taylor, about the rocky romance of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

Cillian Murphy takes the lead in Peaky Blinders, a gangster saga set in 1920s England.

Other big names include Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe, who star in A Young Doctor's Notebook, about a doctor in a small Russian village.


The channel, part of a $360 million investment by parent company BBC Worldwide, will also feature Ricky Gervais's comedy Derek and Steve Coogan's Alan Partridge.

And Banished, the first local commission, about the early days of Australia's penal colony, begins filming in Sydney on April 7. David Wenham stars as Governor Arthur Phillip and the series is written by award-winning writer Jimmy McGovern.

BBC First was announced last April in a shock move which signalled the termination of the ABC's airing of BBC dramas and comedy after a lengthy relationship, although other genres and shows such as Doctor Who and QI remain unaffected.

Jon Penn, managing director of BBC Worldwide Australia and New Zealand 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."