Paramount+ Cancels Most Original UK Programming

Samantha Morton and Ruby Stokes in "The Burning Girls"

Samantha Morton and Ruby Stokes in "The Burning Girls"

(Photo: Paramount+)

It was March 2022 when Paramount+ announced its first round of U.K. originals ahead of launching across the pond that coming summer. The streaming service promised this was just the tip of a very ambitious slate, aiming to greenlight 50 international titles by year's end to add to its already successful American-oriented hits like Star Trek: Discovery and Yellowstone. Paramount+ was also well-placed to pull off the stunt, as parent company Paramount owned the U.K.'s Channel 5, home of successful shows like All Creatures Great & Small and Dalgliesh.

But Paramount has been late to the streaming race from the outset, an irony, since it had technically been the first to recognize standalone streamers were the wave of the future in 2014, launching CBS All Access. But behind-the-scenes drama slowed its reaction when competitors caught on, and the switch to Paramount+ put it dead last in entering the race for relevance in the 2020s. Perhaps with a longer runway or more forgiving investors, it might have been able to hold out, but by New Year's Day 2024, rumors were loud and clear the company was looking for a buyer. The company even forwent the Television Critics Association Press Tour, an extremely rare occurrence.

However, what is not a rumor is that Paramount+ and CBS are cleaning house and making themselves presentable for new ownership. That apparently includes shutting down the money-losing international series strategy, save for a few key shows. 

For Anglophiles, most of these shows will be recognizable as those hyped as coming to Paramount+ U.S. but never materialized. Emma Appleton's The Killing Kind, Mirren Mack's The Doll Factory, Jack Farthing's The Serial Killer's Wife, the recent debut The Castaways, and the Jodie Whittaker series One Night have all disappeared from Paramount+ U.K. Meanwhile, in production but never got off the ground, like Simon Beckett's The Chemistry of Death, or shows in the middle of filming, like No Escape, have gone dark or expected to never materialize.

Also swiftly removed from the U.K. version of Paramount+: The shows that silently showed up on Roku, Freevee, Tubi, and other low-key streaming services where American audiences wouldn't necessarily notice Paramount sold them for quick cash rather than debut them on its own service for a loss. Samantha Morton's The Burning Girls and Jessica Brown Findlay's The Flatshare, the latter of which even got renewed for a second season, have both disappeared and had that second season unrenewed.

Then there are the Australian shows that never made it to the U.K., let alone in America. North Shore, for example, which stars Joanne Froggatt, only ever streamed down under, and it's unclear what its fate will be. Hopefully, with Paramount+ removing these shows wholesale, the plan is to sell them off to larger, more successful streamers that will do a better job of marketing them than Paramount+ did with The Gold and Sexy Beast and then will find an audience over here. 

Speaking of Sexy Beast, Paramount+ has not quite put that show to bed yet, though it neatly extracted itself from The Gold Season 2. Perhaps since the show is still streaming new episodes, the service decided to at least wait until the finale to pull it? Or perhaps it has hope an audience will materialize if it wishes hard enough. Moreover, it is holding on to at least a few of its highest-profile shows for the time being. A Gentleman in Moscow, which just debuted its first trailer, will come to both Paramount+ U.K. and Paramount+ U.S., though notably, the latter is technically coming to Showtime and streaming on Paramount+.

Also, the Australian series Last King of the Cross, which made it to the U.K. (though not the U.S.), was left on the service, and its second season is still filming. And the adaptation of Sarah Pinborough’s novel Insomnia, starring Vicky McClure from producer Left Bank (and executive produced by McClure), has also been left alone and allowed to continue production while rumors of Paramount's sale continue to swirl.

A Gentleman in Moscow will debut on Paramount+ on Friday, March 29, and then on Showtime on Sunday, March 31, 2024, at 9 p.m. ET. As for all these other shows, your guess is as good as ours. If you see any of them turn up anywhere, please let us know.


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. 

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