Sky has revealed a range of fresh programmes soon to grace its content lineup, spanning a variety of genres like Sky Original drama, comedy, entertainment, arts, and factual shows.
In the course of the Sky ‘Spotlight’ session at the Edinburgh International TV Festival, Zai Bennett (MD of Content, Sky UK&I), Meghan Lyvers (Director of Original Drama, Sky Studios), Poppy Dixon (Director of Documentaries and Factual, Sky), and Dwayne Eaton (Commissioning Exec, Arts and Entertainment, Sky) disclosed updates and teasers, featuring notable figures such as Julianne Moore (Mary & George) and Harvey Keitel (The Tattooist of Auschwitz), slated to feature on Sky within the next twelve months.
A comprehensive overview of Sky’s announcements is provided below.
Zai Bennett says: “At Sky we must deliver to our customers content worth paying for, and it’s with that lens we carefully consider which shows to commission and acquire across all genres, making sure we deliver some of their favourite shows of the year, with world class talent, on and off the screen.
“We’re pleased to announce a cohort of brand-new shows for our world-leading free-to-air Sky Arts channel, led by Dickens’ Italy with David Harewood, and continuing our mission to bring the arts to everyone. We are also building on the successful launch of our Sky Kids linear channel, with thoughtful, creative kids’ content, that parents can trust. We’re looking forward to premiering the climate change documentary, Save Our Wildlife, to coincide with COP28, featuring eight-year-old conservationist Aneeshwar.”
Poppy Dixon, comments: “With Sky Documentaries we aim to bring our audience incredible true stories, made by the best storytellers in the business – which we’re proud to showcase in the richly compelling narrative of Louis Theroux’s Tell Them You Love Me, as well as in the riveting, thought-provoking series House of Kardashian. We also could not be more delighted to announce our ground-breaking natural history series, Secret World of Sound with David Attenborough, set to premiere next year.”
Meghan Lyvers says: “We know Sky Original Comedy and Drama is loved by Sky customers, and so we are excited to bring them an unmissable line up of series in the coming year. These include Mary & George, starring Julianne Moore, as well as an ambitious adaptation of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, which will be scored by Academy Award®-winner Hans Zimmer and Kara Talve. We also revealed today that our much-loved comedy series Funny Woman, starring Gemma Arterton, is returning for a second season.”
Dwayne Eaton comments: “Our Entertainment line-up at Sky continues to go from strength to strength and we’re so excited that one of the UK’s favourite television presenters, Alison Hammond, will take up the role as team captain on our brand-new TV quiz panel show, Rob Beckett’s Smart TV, with host Beckett, and opposing team captain Josh Widdicombe.
“We can’t wait for Rob Beckett’s Smart TV to join our award-winning entertainment slate, sitting alongside the likes of Never Mind the Buzzcocks and A League of Their Own.”
Novelties in Sky Original Drama
The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Hans Zimmer, an Academy Award® Winner, and Kara Talve are Set to Compose for Sky and Peacock Original Series The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Sky and Peacock have announced that the acclaimed composer Hans Zimmer (known for Inception, Interstellar, Dune) and Kara Talve (Prehistoric Planet) will provide the score for the forthcoming adaptation of the globally renowned novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. The series is produced by Synchronicity Films in partnership with Sky Studios and All3Media International.
The limited series, which wrapped up filming in Europe this summer and features Jonah Hauer-King, Anna Próchniak, Harvey Keitel, Melanie Lynskey, and Jonas Nay, is set to premiere worldwide next year. This will mark the first time that Hans Zimmer and Kara Talve collaborate as composers for a television drama series.
Zimmer, celebrated for his iconic soundtracks for films such as The Lion King, Rain Man, Gladiator, and The Dark Knight, will work alongside Kara Talve, who is concurrently engaged in scoring Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming project, Faraway Downs, and is part of Bleeding Fingers, a composer collective co-founded by Zimmer that has garnered both Emmy and BAFTA nominations.
Hans Zimmer says: “Within the depths of Auschwitz, here is a story of hope and love, that transcends boundaries and resonates with the very essence of our humanity. I stand humbled to be part of this extraordinary production and both Kara and I are deeply privileged to compose this score. We invite you to join us on this journey, as we celebrate the human spirit and the power of hope within the darkest corners of history.”
Kara Talve says: “This is a dream project for me; not only does it challenge me artistically but also deeply resonates personally. Like millions of others, my family perished in the camps and to have the privilege to work alongside this incredibly talented team and help bring this story of hope to life has been a unique chance to reflect and as it stands has been the most honorable undertaking of my career thus far.”
Fresh in Sky Original Comedy
Funny Woman Confirmed for a Second Season
In the first season, Barbara from Blackpool achieved her dream of becoming a TV comedy sensation named Sophie Straw, capturing the hearts of the nation. In the second season, Sophie realizes that ‘having a voice’ doesn’t necessarily equate to being heard, and fame proves to be a fickle companion. Frustrated by being typecast in traditional comedy shows, Sophie ventures into arthouse cinema, hoping for a more progressive platform – but her hopes are dashed. Unperturbed, Sophie decides to establish her own comedy show, where she can share authentic stories in all their chaotic and humorous glory. She has discovered her voice and nothing can deter her from using it. Through her journey, she discovers the power of words.
Produced by Potboiler and Rebel Park Productions, in collaboration with Sky Studios, Funny Woman’s second season boasts an executive production team including Nick Hornby, Gemma Arterton, Andrea Calderwood, Gail Egan, Jessica Parker, and Jessica Malik. The series is penned by the acclaimed writer Morwenna Banks and directed by BAFTA nominee Oliver Parker. The project was commissioned for Sky Studios by Tilusha Ghelani.
Novel to Sky Documentaries & Factual
House of Kardashian
No other family epitomizes our era or sparks as much debate as the Kardashians. To some, they stand as a dynasty of influential women, inspiring girls worldwide. To others, they are reality TV personalities devoid of talent and morality, propagating an image of superficial fairytales.
House of Kardashian, a three-part documentary series, sets out to challenge stereotypes and explore what the world truly knows about the Kardashians. It delves into their ascent, their reach, and the costs incurred by being among the most famous women globally. The series showcases previously unreleased archival footage and exclusive first-hand accounts from those within the family circle, including Caitlyn Jenner.
The project was commissioned by Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual at Sky, and Hayley Reynolds, Commissioning Editor, on behalf of Zai Bennett, MD of Content, Sky UK&I. House of Kardashian is directed by Katie Hindley and executive produced by Clare Cameron, in conjunction with 72 Films’ Creative Director John Douglas.
Fremantle is handling international distribution for the series, excluding the USA.
Tell Them You Love Me (1×120)
Tell Them You Love Me delves into the remarkable tale of Anna Stubblefield, an esteemed university professor who finds herself ensnared in a contentious affair with Derrick Johnson, a non-verbal black man with cerebral palsy. Anna claims to have liberated Derrick’s mind from his body, teaching him to communicate using a keyboard.
However, when Derrick’s family starts to question his miraculous transformation and Anna’s motives, it leads to a legal trial that challenges prevailing perceptions of consent and disability.
Featuring exclusive footage and interviews from both sides of the case, this feature-length documentary weaves an intricate and endlessly nuanced narrative around communication, race, and intimacy.
Tell Them You Love Me is a creation of Mindhouse and has been commissioned for Sky Documentaries by Zai Bennett, MD of Content, Sky UK&I, Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual, and Hayley Reynolds, Commissioning Editor. The Sky Original film is helmed by Nick August-Perna and produced by Tamara Rosenberg and Andrea Debrito. Executive producers include Louis Theroux and Arron Fellows, with Leroy F Morn Jr. as consultant producer.
Secret World of Sound with David Attenborough (3×60)
David Attenborough delves into the extraordinary auditory experiences of animals in Secret World of Sound with David Attenborough, exploring the role sound plays in the lives of creatures around the world, from birth through to maturity and finding a partner. Using state-of-the-art recording technology and immersive 360-degree Dolby Atmos soundscapes, this groundbreaking series brings sound to the forefront for the first time.
Viewers are privy to how young caimans communicate while still in their eggs, the sonic clashes between lions and hyenas, an enigmatic fish that baffled locals with its eerie hum, and the remarkable mimicry abilities of certain birds. Laden with wonder, insight, and novel scientific revelations, Secret World of Sound with David Attenborough offers a remarkable, unforgettable experience.
The project was commissioned for Sky Documentaries by Zai Bennett, MD of Content, Sky UK&I, Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries & Factual, and Tom Barry, Commissioning Editor. Produced by Humble Bee Films (UK) and Infield Fly Productions (Canada), the series boasts executive producers Stephen Dunleavy and Dugald Maudsley, with Sharmila Choudhury as series producer.
Abacus Media Rights handles the worldwide distribution for the documentary series.
Debuts in Sky Arts
Dickens in Italy/Dickens: Phantoms and Fictions
Actor and writer David Harewood embarks on a new two-part series, Dickens in Italy with David Harewood (w/t), tracing the journey of one of literature’s most celebrated writers through Italy’s most picturesque cities. Challenging the notion that Dickens was solely an English author, David Harewood unveils the influence of Italy on Dickens’ writing style, political convictions, and personal experiences, retracing the novelist’s Grand Tour through cities such as Venice, Naples, Genoa, and Rome.
David Harewood commented: “Dickens has millions of avid readers, and his works remain enduringly popular the world over. His time in Italy is little-known and often disregarded, yet it was completely formative for him personally, and politically and informed the writing style that captured so much attention. I’m looking forward to following his path and uncovering some new stories about the writer we all know so well.”
Also arriving this Christmas, the one-off documentary Dickens: Phantoms and Fictions delves into the eerie and atmospheric realm of Charles Dickens’ supernatural tales. The programme delves into Dickens’ enigmatic and moody worlds via actor readings and archive footage, exploring the fascination with ghost stories during the Victorian era.
Both Dickens in Italy with David Harewood (2×60) and Dickens: Phantoms and Fictions (1×60) were commissioned by Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts, for Zai Bennett, MD of Content, Sky UK & I. The Commissioning Editor for Sky is Benedetta Pinelli (Dickens: Phantoms and Fictions), and Leanne Cosby is Assistant Commissioner (Dickens in Italy). Produced by Section 52 Films, these series are the maiden projects for Section 52 Films, co-founded by David Harewood and Sabina Emrit Harper.
Upcoming in Sky Arts
Battle of the Bagpipes
Arriving on Sky Arts in the forthcoming year, the three-part documentary series Battle of the Bagpipes will delve into the world of piping traditions, culture, and its notable performers, all vying for the ultimate accolade in piping. The series follows both military and civilian pipe bands in their quest to be the finest, uncovering that piping is a pursuit for the determined.
The series will unveil the highly competitive audition process for the Lone Piper at the Royal Military Tattoo, trail new recruits making their debut in piping competitions, and observe long-standing rival pipe bands as they compete in Glasgow’s World Pipe Band Championships, the most fierce piping contest globally.
Battle of the Bagpipes (3×60) was commissioned by Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts, for Zai Bennett, MD of Content, Sky UK&I. The Commissioning Editor for Sky is Barbara Lee. The production is managed by Spun Gold TV.
Forthcoming in Sky Kids
Save Our Wildlife
9 October 2023
Eight-year-old conservationist Aneeshwar calls for action to safeguard our planet, not just for humanity but also for the wildlife that coexists with us. In the upcoming climate change documentary, Aneeshwar and five peers from around the world will spotlight the perils faced by six iconic species.
From walruses to Bengal tigers, green sea turtles to majestic Monarch butterflies – the show uncovers the reasons behind their dwindling numbers and explores potential solutions to prevent their extinction. These animals could vanish within the next fifty years unless world leaders convening at COP28 in Dubai take swift action to tackle the climate crisis.
Save Our Wildlife (1 x 28’) was commissioned jointly with Sky Zero by Lucy Murphy, Director of Sky Kids, for Zai Bennett, Managing Director of Content for UK and Ireland. The commissioning Editor for Sky is Ian France. The film is produced by Fresh Start Media, with Roger Farrant as Executive Producer.