BBC America targets younger viewers

A high school drama from the creators of the UK hit Footballers Wives and fresh takes on Robin Hood and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde are among the new dramas set to air on BBC America in the next year, the cable channel said Wednesday.

BBC America general manager Kathryn Mitchell said the offshoot of the venerable British broadcaster wants to broaden its appeal to a slightly younger audience, "but we don't want to lose those loyal viewers."

The new series include:

Waterloo Road (eight, hour-long episodes) centers on an inner-city high school where the despondent teachers have given up trying to make a difference as they struggle to cope with their personal problems and nightmare day jobs. The cast includes Jason Merrells, Jamie Glover, and Angela Griffin. It was written by Footballers Wives creators Maureen Chadwick and Ann McManus. It is set to premiere in June.

Robin Hood (13, hour-long episodes), a fresh take on the classic tale targeted for the first quarter of 2007, is being positioned as "BBC's big prime-time drama highlight of the year." In fact, an order of 13 episodes is significant for the broadcaster, which is more associated with initial episodic orders of just six or eight at most.

Jekyll (six, 90-minute episodes) is a modern-day telling starring James Nesbitt in the title role. They share the same body, but Hyde is unaware that Jekyll is now married and will do anything to protect his family from the dark side. It will bow in the second quarter.

Low Winter Sun (two, 90-minute episodes), set in Edinburgh, stars Mark Strong as a police detective who kills for revenge and naively believes he's engineered the perfect crime. It will likely premiere in early 2007.

The four new projects join other shows, including Shakespeare Retold, Love Soup, and Sharpe's Challenge. BBC America is distributed in more than 46 million homes.

Like on Facebook