Downton Abbey producers Carnival Films and Libertine Pictures will develop Neil Cross’ working-titled Bay of Plenty for the BBC.
Carnival has some 500 hours of drama in its catalogue. As well as Downton (“the most nominated non-US show in the history of the Emmys”), the company has made, among others, Hotel Babylon, Poirot, Sea of Souls, Jeeves and Wooster, Whitechapel and Dracula.
Detective show Bay of Plenty will be set in and around Rotorua (hence the provisional title) and is described as a “darkly eccentric crime drama”. Shooting is expected to be in the second half of 2015, to air in 2016. The show is based around a UK detective who relocates to NZ. It’s intended to have a predominantly NZ cast and crew and will be an 8 x 1 hour series, although Libertine principal Richard Fletcher noted, “Our vision is for it to become a long-running series.”
Cross is a two-time Emmy nominee for Luther, was lead writer on two seasons of Spooks, and has written for Dr Who. His 2013 feature Mama was well-received and managed the US box office accolade “Highest Opening Weekend for a Horror Feature Not Featuring Found Footage” in almost a decade.
Bay of Plenty will take advantage of the recently-introduced NZSPG, and is the first major New Zealand-originated TV production to be announced since the launch of that scheme in April. The UK-developed BBC production Tatau, shooting here and in the Pacific with South Pacific Pictures, was the first major inbound TV project to be announced under the scheme.
The announcements of major projects are very much in line with the industry’s argument for increasing the incentive rates, and also (in the case of Bay of Plenty) meet the government’s stated aim of helping companies develop internationally viable IP.
Fletcher said, “The NZSPG aims to move production companies away from the service model to an intellectual property creation model with long-term benefits realised from a production. This project is a direct example of how that is working in practice. It will bring significant investment to the local and national economy. The vast majority of the cast will be New Zealanders and it will employ many people from the New Zealand television and film industry and from the Bay of Plenty region.”
Carnival’s parent company NBCUniversal, for whom Cross created Crossbones, will launch Bay of Plenty at MIPCOM next week. The intention is to finance the show from the NZSPG and international licence fees. Another UK-NZ venture, the ITV-Pukeko series Thunderbirds Are Go! will have its world premiere at MIPCOM’s accompanying MipJunior this weekend.
Cross will be showrunner on the series, which will be executive produced by Richard Fletcher, Paul Davis and Neil Cross for Libertine, and Gareth Neame and Nigel Marchant for Carnival.