All3Media Group-owned Lion Television is readying an international copro on an expedition that successfully located one of explorer Sir John Franklin’s lost ships in the Arctic in September.
Franklin and his ships set sail in 1845 to find the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to Asia – a route that winds around Canada – with 200 sailors and enough food for two years, but vanished without a trace.
In early September, teams from Parks Canada and the Royal Canadian Geographic Society – which ventured north to find the wreckage with a team from Lion TV on board – managed to locate a wreck that, earlier this month, was verified to be the HMS Erebus.
“We took a leap of faith when we heard the expedition was happening – there have been several over the last few years – and we sort of felt it would be worth doing if we could,” Lion co-MD Richard Bradley (pictured) told realscreen. “And we were allowed by Parks Canada and the Royal Canadian Geographic Society to come on board as the crew and team, and we sent a producer and cameraman up there and for 10 days. They were drifting in the ice up there and we were starting to wonder if it was money down the drain, but they went and found the ship and it’s extraordinary.”
The special is an international coproduction currently being assembled between as-yet-unnamed broadcasters in the U.S., Canada, the UK and other territories. Tentatively titled Franklin’s Lost Ships, the special is presently in post-production and an air date has yet to be set.
“Expedition shows are incredibly risky because you have to take a plunge – much like gambling – and you’re probably not going to come back with anything, so we’re really thrilled,” said Bradley. “What I like about it is that in our business, which gets dominated by predictability and cut-copy. there’s still an opportunity for stuff that’s exciting… It renews your faith in occasionally taking a risk.”
The Horrible Histories producer is known for historical fare, but has diversified in recent years, and its present slate includes series such as the dating show Sexy Beasts for BBC3 and the culinary makeover series Restaurant Redemption for the Cooking Channel.
Looking ahead, Bradley identifies comedy as an area Lion is interested in exploring further.
“The area I think is really exciting is comedy – funny factual,” he says. “People want to be entertained, they want to laugh. And I think comedy is repetition as well, so people will watch it again and again and again. There isn’t enough of a smart approach to comedy in factual.”