Discovery Communications announces raft of new programming

Ridley Scott, Ricky Gervais and docmaker Keith Beauchamp are among the talent coming to Discovery Communications' networks via new shows, as announced during the company's presentation at the TCA winter press tour.
January 10, 2011

Discovery Communications unveiled a raft of new programming for Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Science Channel and Investigation Discovery and Planet Green during the Television Critics Association winter press tour. Ridley Scott, Ricky Gervais and docmaker Keith Beauchamp are among the talent coming to the networks via new shows.

Kidnap & Rescue will give viewers unprecedented access to security firms that specialize in rescuing kidnap victims. The new 10-episode series will premiere on January 29 on the Discovery Channel and will kick off with two kidnappings that HALO Corporation – a firm comprised of former Special Ops, National Security and Intelligence personnel – is working to solve.

Discovery Channel will also bring a spin-off of popular game show Cash Cab to air, this time set in Chicago. The Windy City version will premiere in the summer, with Second City comedian Beth Melewski as host/cab driver. Meanwhile, the original New York-set Cash Cab with host Ben Bailey will return in the spring with new episodes.

‘We are excited to launch Cash Cab in Chicago, a city that has such a strong identity and sense of place. Beth brings an authenticity and great comedic heritage to the series,’ said Clark Bunting, president and general manager of Discovery Channel.
Cash Cab is produced for the Discovery Channel by Lion Television.

Pilgrim Films & Television’s Emmy-nominated series, Out Of the Wild, heads to Venezuela in the series premiere on February 17 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. In the Discovery Channel series, nine Americans have to survive in the wild with only the clothes on their backs and a few supplies.

A new Animal Planet series featuring Mike Tyson, Taking on Tyson, will see its debut on March 6. Produced by Touch Productions in association with Tyrannic Productions, the six-part series follows the heavyweight boxing legend as he races pigeons on the rooftops of Jersey City and on the street in Brooklyn.

‘The first thing I ever loved in my life was a pigeon. I don’t know why…I feel ridiculous trying to explain it,’ says Tyson, in a release. ‘Pigeons are a part of my life. It’s a constant with my sanity in a weird way; this is just what I do. If I’m lucky enough to die an old man, I’m going to have birds.’

Speaking of unlikely pair-ups, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s eight-episode series An Idiot Abroad will have its U.S. premiere on Science Channel on January 22. Dubbed as an ‘elaborate practical-joke-turned-sociology-experiment,’ Gervais and Merchant force friend Karl Pilkington – whom Gervais calls ‘the real-life Homer Simpson’ – set out to visit the Seven Wonders of the World, despite the fact that Pilkington would prefer to stay in the UK. The series is produced by Mentorn International.

‘It’s great to have An Idiot Abroad on such a prestigious and innovative outlet,’ said Gervais, in a statement. ‘Karl didn’t even go to school and now look at him. I can’t wait to hear how they announce it on air. ‘And now on Science Channel, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant send a chimp around the world to annoy it.”

Debbie Myers, executive vice president and general manager of Science Channel, says of the show: ‘Karl Pilkington gives An Idiot Abroad a real heart. He has a fearless, childlike wonder that allows him to ask the questions that others are afraid to. His fish-out-of-water experiences in these new, mysterious worlds make him the epitome of an ‘accidental scientist.”

Also on Science Channel is the Ridley Scott-produced Prophets of Science Fiction, set to premiere in the second half of 2011. The eight-episode series will profile legendary science fiction figures like Isaac Asimov, Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas, and looks at how their work inspired discoveries decades before they happened.

‘Quite simply, Ridley Scott is a titan in the world of science fiction – and the perfect personification of Prophets of Science Fiction,’ said Myers. The series is produced by filmmaking brothers Ridley and Tony Scott.

Investigation Discovery will commemorate Black History Month with The Injustice Files, from director Keith Beauchamp, produced by CBS EYE Productions. Premiering on February 18, the docuseries will look at three cases in the FBI’s Civil Rights-Era Cold Case Initiative, which re-examines racially-motivated homicide investigations prior to 1970.

Lastly, Planet Green will launch season two of Conviction Kitchen on January 14 and the world premiere of docuseries Boomtown on January 29. The Cineflix-produced restaurant series Conviction Kitchen sees acclaimed chef Marc Thuet and his wife/business partner, take in a crew of inexperienced ex-cons, for a second time, this time in Vancouver. Boomtown is a five-episode docuseries, produced by Left/Right, which focuses on what happens to a small town in North Dakota after unrefined crude oil is discovered underneath.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.