When AMC bought up a majority stake in BBC America back in 2014, the plan was for the two companies to join forces in an ever-consolidating entertainment world. BBC America, despite the name, did not have a first-run right of refusal with the U.K. version of the network. As an advert-supported creation of commercial subsidiary BBC Worldwide, it had to bid just like everyone else for programming. It regularly lost out on British programming to deep-pocketed rivals like Netflix. AMC has been working to close that gap, and, in the last week, has managed to score two major series.
The first, The Salisbury Poisonings, is a big get for the network. The three-part miniseries is based on the real-life nerve agent attack on former double agent Russian spy Sergei Skripal in 2018. Starring Anne-Marie Duff, Rafe Spall, and Annabel Scholey, the series focuses less on the Russian agent side of things (which Moscow to this day denies). Instead, it tells the story from the view of the locals who suddenly found themselves with a movie-esque espionage mystery in their midst. The series has been a massive hit in the UK, bringing in 7.2 million viewers, and is the highest-rated series in five years, tying with the premiere of His Dark Materials Season 1 last fall.
The potential of a hit fall miniseries with awards potential isn't the only reason this is a win for AMC. With the COVID-19 shutdowns, everyone is scrambling for programming come the fall, and a completed series like this, even at only three episodes, is a prize ready to air while other channels hope their line-ups can start filming in time for airing.
Unfortunately, the other series This Is Going To Hurt, isn't quite so ready. AMC has partnered with the BBC to co-produce the series based on Adam Kay’s humorous medical memoir of the same name, along with Sister, the production company behind Chernobyl last year on Sky and HBO. Ben Whishaw is attached to star, making this a hope for a repeat of the success of A Very English Scandal, a BBC and AMC co-pro as well, with Whishaw in the lead. Fans should note that just because AMC is co-producing does not guarantee this will air on either the flagship channel or BBC America — A Very English Scandal, after all, wound up on Amazon Prime.
Even so, the parade of British TV coming over here continues. The Salisbury Poisonings joins other completed British shows coming to the US to help plug holes. The CW recently announced a slate of British game shows to air stateside as part of the summer programming. The offerings include "horror whodunnit competition" Killer Camp, the BAFTA-nominated game show Taskmaster, and Being Reuben, starring 14-year-old Welsh social media star Reuben de Maid.
It's going to be a very British summer on American TV and it seems like that will run right into the fall. The Salisbury Poisonings is expected to air sometime in autumn of 2020.