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BBC America announces 'The Fades' and explains its science-fiction fixation

April 25, 2011 | 12:26 pm

DrwhoIt may be royal-wedding week in the U.K., but BBC America has its eye on spookier things: The network just announced that it’s co-producing a new supernatural drama called “The Fades,” to premiere January 2012.

Written by Jack Thorne (who wrote for the U.K. versions of “Skins” and “Shameless” as well as co-writing the Shane Meadows movie “This is England ’86”), it stars Lily Loveless and Daniel Kaluuya  (who both starred in the original U.K. “Skins”) and features a plotline about a boy who sees spirits.

This comes on the heels of last week’s announcement that the channel would air 80 hours of 2003 sci-fi classic “Battlestar Galactica,” which originally ran on Syfy, starting June 18. Not only that, but the recently announced upcoming slate also includes the new series “Outcasts,” described as a “frontier sci-fi drama” about power struggles and sex in “a new post-Earth era” (premieres June 18) and the spooky fall 2011 drama “Bedlam,” about an apartment building haunted by its former inhabitants -- patients in a lunatic asylum. These new shows will join existing programs such as “Doctor Who” and “Being Human” on BBC America’s “Supernatural Saturday block.”

So is BBC America trying to compete with Syfy to become the geek network of choice?

According to Perry Simon, general manager of BBC America, it’s just a matter of focusing on what they do well.  “Science fiction is a staple of British television -- there’s rich history of it, and they do it very well. As a result, BBCA has gotten a steady pipeline of quality British science fiction, and we have over the years wanted to deliver it in coherent fashion, which led us to brand 'Supernatural Saturday.' "

Some  fans expressed surprise about the signing of "Battlestar Galactica,” which has no English angle (except for a few of the actors, who artfully disguised their British accents).  Simon pointed out that “Galactica” joined “Star Trek: the Next Generation,” which has been in reruns on BBC America for a while. But the bulk of the programming, he promises, will be “British science fiction.”

Even the British shows may be getting a little American action, though: The season opener of “Doctor Who” found the Tardis landing in the U.S. And that may give it a boost here -- the show’s season premiere this weekend nabbed it almost 1.3 million viewers, up from last season’s opener.

Simon says the Doctor’s American setting partly “grew out of conversations about how to grow the franchise in American audience” -- but that more than anything it was creative excitement on the part of “Doctor Who”  producer Steven Moffat. As he told EW, “We had an idea, and it seemed cool, so we did it.”

-- Joy Press

RELATED:

BBC America picks up "Battlestar Galactica"

TCA Press Tour: "Outcasts"

"Doctor Who" review

Photo: Matt Smith as Doctor Who. Credit: BBC America

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