With the discontinuation of DStv’s BBC First channel from September 1, Zimbabwean fans of British entertainment will not lose out as there are plans to extend the amount of UK-sourced content on M-Net and other channels, as well as beef up the programme mix on BBC Brit, including popular shows from BBC First and from Itv Choice, which was discontinued in June.
Liz Dziva, publicity and public relations manager of MultiChoice Zimbabwe, said the MultiChoice Group had released details of changes in programming to cater for the many fans of top British shows.
“The plan is to focus on BBC Brit for drama and variety, while there will be increased acquisition of British content for M-Net, which will reduce the repeats on M-Net and strengthen daytime schedules,” she said.
Award-winning British shows in this mix will include The Chase, Love Island UK and Britain’s Got Talent, as well as series one of The Bay and The Capture. In addition, two popular Itv soaps, Emmerdale and Coronation Street, will return and will be found on M-Net City (DStv channel 115). They will also be available on Catch Up.
“BBC Brit will continue to offer drama series as part of its schedule, including some from BBC First, and new opportunities will be sought by MultiChoice Group to source a full range of quality productions coming out of the UK,” said Ms Dziva.
“MultiChoice Group has said it remains committed to maintaining its long-standing relationship with the BBC and will continue work to with that broadcaster to ensure the best British entertainment for its customers, maintaining a great quality offering at the best value.”
Programming from the UK includes:
· Beecham House, M-Net: an historical drama set in Delhi in 1795, depicting the lives of the Beecham family in their newly-bought house. The family is headed by John Beecham, a former soldier with the East India Company who is “determined to make the house his safe haven”. The ensemble cast includes Lesley Nicol (Downton Abbey), Gregory Fitoussi (Mr. Selfridge), Adil Ray (Citizen Khan), Pallavi Sharda (Lion), Dakota Blue Richards (Endeavour), Leo Suter (Victoria, Sanditon), Bessie Carter (Howard’s End) and Marc Warren (Safe, Hustle).
· Semi Detached, BBC Brit: comedian Lee Mack (Not Going Out) stars in this family sitcom about a divorced couple living on the same street. With each episode, a new crisis kicks off in Stuart’s life. Stuart hasn’t exactly made it easy for himself. His ex-wife lives across the street, his alcohol-swilling dad lives in the bedroom next door to his and his new girlfriend and his daughter can be a tad dramatic. Whatever happens, only one thing remains certain: Stuart has absolutely no idea what to do.
· Our Girl series 4, BBC Brit: Molly, a young woman with a stagnant life, decides to join the army. She is deployed as an army medic during the British army’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.
· World on Fire, M-Net: Helen Hunt and Sean Bean star in this historical drama that follows the intertwined lives of ordinary civilians from Britain, Poland, France, Germany and the USA during World War II. The series traces the fates of several families from the Nazi invasion of Poland to the fall of Paris and beyond. Each of the characters is from a different background and country, and plays different roles in the war, but all are ultimately united by their struggle to survive in difficult circumstances. The drama switches its scenes between various locations in France, Britain, Germany and Poland.
· Gangs of London, M-Net: The city of London is being torn apart by the turbulent power struggles of the international gangs that control it and the sudden power vacuum that’s created when the head of London’s most powerful crime family is assassinated.
· The Third Day, M-Net: The line between fantasy and reality begins to blur for a man visiting a mysterious island off the British coast. Starring Jude Law.
· Gold Digger, M-Net: Starring Julia Ormond and Ben Barnes, Gold Digger as been described by the BBC as a contemporary relationship thriller, about second chances, family and betrayal. The story follows a wealthy older woman who falls in love with a younger man, but the nature of their relationship is called into question
· The Bay, M-Net: DS Lisa Armstrong (Morven Christie) is the mother of two children and working for the fictional West Lancashire Police Service as a family liaison officer. She is called out on the case of two missing children, only to find the married stepfather of the twins is someone that she had sex with in an alley behind a pub on the night the twins disappeared, when she was out on a friend’s hen night. As a FLO, Armstrong is trained not to become emotionally involved with cases she is working on, but her sexual encounter with Sean (Jonas Armstrong), threatens to compromise the investigation. Although she can prove that he isn’t responsible for their disappearance, Armstrong deletes the CCTV footage of them having sex, rather than come clean and admit to the one-night stand and provide Sean with an alibi.
· Baghdad Central, M-Net: a six-part noir thriller based on the book Baghdad Central by Elliott Colla. It’s 2003 and Iraq is occupied by a US-led coalition. When his elder daughter Sawsan (Leem Lubany) goes missing, Muhsin al-Khafaji (Waleed Zuaiter), an ex-police inspector in the Iraqi Police Service, determines to find her. His younger daughter Mrouj (July Namir) tells him that Sawsan has got a job through her university professor Zubeida Rashid (Clara Khoury), working as an interpreter for the Coalition Authority. When he is asked to help rebuild a new Iraqi Police Service by British policeman Frank Temple (Bertie Carvel), Khafaji has to decide whether to become a collaborator to gain access to the secure Green Zone and further his search for his daughter.
· Small Axe, BBC Brit: Based on the real-life experiences of London’s West Indian community and is set between 1969 and 1982.
· Death In Paradise, BBC Brit: this British-French crime drama television series created by Robert Thorogood features . Detective inspectors transferred from London to the island of Saint-Marie in the Caribbean. It transfers from BBC First.