In the wake of the eight Emmy nominations for Top of the Lake, the BBC is keen to embark on more co-productions with Australia.
Kate Harwood, the BBC’s Head of Drama Production, who will deliver a keynote address at the SPAA conference in November, says she is developing ideas for collaborations with Australian producers.
“I might have a couple (of projects) in my pocket,” Harwood told IF on the line from London. “Co-production is the future. We aim to support more international productions and to support the authors’ voices.”
At SPAA, Harwood will give insights into how the BBC Drama department works and how it has managed to reinvent the model for making low-budget dramas following a severe £700 million ($1.2 billion) cutback in the corporation’s funding.
She says the typical budget for BBC dramas today is lower than it was 10 years ago. The Beeb has cut costs by shooting on HD instead of film, using smaller crews and restricting the amount of travel.
Despite that austerity, Harwood says British drama is “buoyant and healthy,” pointing to shows such as Luther, Father Brown, Good Cop and Waking the Dead.
Among the shows she’s commissioned recently are Quirke, a series starring Gabriel Byrne as the chief pathologist in the Dublin city morgue , a charismatic loner whose job takes him into unexpected places; and Burton and Taylor, which features Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter as Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
Also on her slate is The Musketeers, a 10-part drama which stars Luke Pasqualino (Skins), Peter Capaldi (the new Doctor Who) and Tom Burke in a fresh and contemporary take on Alexandre Dumas's classic novel, which will premiere next year on the BBC’s new premium channel on Foxtel.
A 23-year BBC veteran who started in the development team, she was appointed last December as Head of Drama Production, England, responsible for all in-house drama series and serial production in London and Salford.
In the November 19 keynote, she will be interviewed by Deirdre Brennan, currently BBC Worldwide Australia and New Zealand’s Director of Content, who is returning to the ABC as Controller of Children’s TV in 2014.
She will also host a briefing roundtable where a small number of delegates can learn more about industry leaders’ business practices, and will participate in the International Partnership Market.