Unscripted

BBC America lifts lid on unscripted projects

U.S. network BBC America has greenlit two original factual series, including a show fronted by Top Gear host Richard Hammond (pictured), and unveiled an initial slate of unscripted development projects, including one billed as "Who Do You Think You Are? for cars."
July 25, 2011

U.S. network BBC America has greenlit two original factual series, including a show fronted by Top Gear host Richard Hammond (pictured), and unveiled an initial slate of unscripted development projects, including one billed as “Who Do You Think You Are? for cars.”

The network has greenlit Would You Rather with Graham Norton (13 x 30 minutes, working title) and Hard Drive with Richard Hammond (6 x 60 minutes, w/t).

The former is an original comedy gameshow featuring the titular chat show host and shot in New York, while the latter sees Hammond traveling the U.S. to compete with locals driving some of America’s toughest and most extraordinary vehicles.

Would You Rather is produced by So Television and exec produced by Norton, Graham Stuart and Jim Biederman, while Hard Drive is made by BBC Worldwide Productions and the exec producers are Rob Fox, Elli Hakami and Jane Tranter.

On the development front, BBC America has a pilot with another Top Gear presenter, James May, in the works. James May’s Man Lab U.S. is being 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,” according to producers. The exec producers for Plum Pictures are Will Daws and Stuart Cabb.

Elsewhere, AUTO Biography (w/t), produced by Reveille, looks at the lost history of a vintage car. Billed as “Who Do You Think You Are? for cars,” the show sees a host trace a vehicle’s family tree and meets the previous owners along the way while the vehicle is simultaneously restored and refurbished.

The restored car will be reunited with one unsuspecting previous owner. The exec producer for Reveille is Heather Schuster and the co-executive producer is Matt O’Brien.

Battlemodo, produced by True Entertainment in association with Gawker Media and its tech site Gizmodo.com is billed as a field-based, hosted hour that takes the gadget site’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.”

The exec producers are Glenda Hersh and Steven Weinstock from True Entertainment, and Gaby Darbyshire from Gawker Media.

On the competitive food front, No Kitchen Required is a single episode format that 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 New York chef Michael Psilakis, who also serves as producer.  The on-screen talent includes chefs Madison Cowan, Kayne Raymond and Dominque Crenn.  Exec producers for Notional are Chachi Senior, Dave Noll and Cleve Keller.

Finally, the channel has ordered a one hour special/back door pilot of Shock Therapy, produced by BBC Worldwide Productions and adapted from the BBC’s 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 into changing their lives and habits for the better. Izzie Pick Ashcroft and Tranter are exec producers.

BBC America general manager Perry Simon said: “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.”

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