International producer, distributor and channel operator, Blue Ant Media announced today an expanded partnership with BBC Studios, producers and distributors of unparalleled content, to launch BBC First in Canada. Featuring premium scripted and factual entertainment programming, BBC First joins existing Blue Ant Media and BBC Studios channel BBC Earth as part of Blue Ant Media’s Canadian cable television portfolio. Scheduled to debut on Tuesday, March 16, the ad-supported channel will give Canadians access to BBC First’s original, award-winning British programming slate. Launch titles include uniquely British and globally-recognized BBC original series Top Gear, Death in Paradise, The Office, and The Graham Norton Show.
“Canadians love British television, and Blue Ant Media’s expanded partnership with BBC Studios underpins our commitment to invest in high-quality, distinctive programs we know our audiences will enjoy,” says Jamie Schouela, President, Global Channels and Media, Blue Ant Media. “To celebrate the launch of BBC First, we’ve scheduled a month-long free preview event offering audiences the opportunity to watch their favourite U.K. series all in one place.”
Rebecca Glashow, President, BBC Studios – Americas, says: “The launch of BBC First continues our relationship with Blue Ant Media, a great partnership that has led to much success for BBC Earth in Canada. They intuitively understand the BBC brand, in-market needs and how to connect with audiences.”
From drama to comedy, action and adventure to mysterious thrillers, BBC First will showcase a huge breadth of programs with a uniquely British perspective. The channel will launch with a rich catalogue of globally-recognized brands, including factual entertainment BBC original series Top Gear (Season 30, Canadian Broadcast Premiere), following presenters Andrew Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness, and Chris Harris in pursuit of hijinks and motoring mayhem; The Graham Norton Show (Season 28), distributed by ITV, with the BAFTA Award-winning talk show host welcoming the biggest Hollywood stars to his sofa every week for some late-night laughs (and drinks); and Antiques Roadshow (Season 41), the BBC’s longest-running factual program where members of the public have their prized possessions appraised by top antique experts.
BBC First’s witty and compelling scripted launch titles include The Office (Season 1), the hit U.K series widely considered one of the most influential comedies of the 21st Century. Written by Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais, The Office is a British mockumentary following the day-to-day troubles of uninspired desk jockeys (including Martin Freeman) working at a mediocre paper company headed up by white-collar boss, David Brent (Gervais). Also premiering on BBC First for launch, Father Brown (Season 6), the crime-busting, charismatic priest (Mark Williams, Harry Potter) who solves murders in the idyllic English countryside; Death in Paradise (Season 6), a popular whodunit series following DI Neville Parker (Ralf Little) as he attempts to solve a slew of baffling murders in the sun-soaked Caribbean; and Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators (Season 1), a comedic drama that follows an oddball couple of private detectives who investigate crime in Stratford-upon Avon.
BBC First marks the second joint venture between Blue Ant Media and BBC Studios. Both broadcasters first entered into an agreement to launch the factual channel BBC Earth in January 2017. Beginning March 16, BBC First will broadcast in Canada in HD and will replace Blue Ant Media’s existing HIFI channel. BBC First is an ad-supported TV channel available for advertising and sponsorship opportunities to coincide with its launch in Canada.