Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.

For its first-ever foray into original scripted series, BBC America made a surprising choice in centering the show on the period in America during the Civil War rather than a subject impacting the other side of the pond. The new show, Copper, premieres on Aug, 19 and carries a first rate pedigree, produced by no less than Barry Levinson (Diner, Rain Man) and Tom Fontana (Oz, Homicide: Life On The Street). It tells the tale of a brutal Irish immigrant cop (played by Tom Weston-Jones) in New York City and his unique sways of meting out justice in the notorious immigrant neighborhood of Five Points, Rather than a western, Copper is dubbed as more of an “eastern” saga. During a TCA session late this morning, Levinson said, “Here’s the BBC excited to do a piece about America and its history, whereas a (broadcast) network would be much more reluctant to go down that road. What you might consider a foreign company was fascinated with this story”. Added Fontana: “The fact that this is BBC America’s first foray into scripted programming means a lot to us. (BBC America GM) Perry Simon has been incredibly supportive and is also incredibly hungry for this to work. I remember also doing HBO’s first scripted drama with Oz, and that’s very intoxicating, especially for a jaded old idiot like me”.

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