BBC America has greenlighted its first two unscripted series, Would You Rather with Graham Norton and Hard Drive with Richard Hammond, which are tied to two of the cable channel’s top three unscripted franchises, reruns of British hits Top Gear, Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and The Graham Norton Show. Would You Rather will feature host and comedian Graham Norton in a new original comedy game show that tests the wits of the best U.S. comics. Shot in New York, it’s produced by So Television and executive produced by Norton, Graham Stuart and Jim Biederman. It will premiere later this year as part of BBC America’s recently launched comedy franchise The Ministry of Laughs. Meanwhile, Top Gear host Hammond will star in the six-episode Hard Drive with Richard Hammond. Produced by BBC Worldwide Prods and based on the BBC format World’s Toughest Driving Tests, it features Hammond traveling the U.S. and competing with local experts driving some of America’s toughest and most extraordinary vehicles. Rob Fox, Elli Hakami and Jane Tranter are exec producing. The new series are part of BBC America’s general manager Perry Simon’s push in original programming. Here are several other unscripted projects BBC America has put in development:
A pilot with another Top Gear presenter, James May. James May’s Man Lab U.S. is produced by Plum Pictures and based on May’s successful British format of the same name. In the U.S. version, James comes to America and teams up with an American sidekick in order to help his transatlantic brethren rediscover and relearn the skills that define what “being a man” is all about. Executive Producers are Will Daws and Stuart Cabb.
AUTO Biography (wt), produced by Reveille, takes a ride down memory lane to track down the lost history of an exceptional vintage car. It’s Who Do You Think You Are? for cars as the host traces a vehicle’s family tree and meets the previous owners along the way while the vehicle is simultaneously restored and refurbished by our resident garage. The restored car will be reunited with one unsuspecting previous owner. The executive producer for Reveille is Heather Schuster and co-executive producer is Matt O’Brien.
Battlemodo, produced by True Entertainment in association with Gawker Media and its tech site Gizmodo.com is a field-based, hosted hour that takes Gizmodo’s recommendation and testing techniques into the real world with epic battles between two cutting edge products that reveal once and for all which is best. Executive producers are Glenda Hersh and Steven Weinstock from True Entertainment and Gaby Darbyshire from Gawker Media.
On the competitive food front, BBC AMERICA follows up on the success of its Gordon Ramsay programming with No Kitchen Required. This single episode format drops four chefs into some of the world’s most remote locations and challenges them to create a meal for the local community, putting their own unique spin on native ingredients. Produced by Notional, it features award-winning New York chef Michael Psilakis, who also serves as producer. The on-screen talent includes chefs Madison Cowan, Kayne Raymond and Dominque Crenn. Executive producers for Notional are Chachi Senior, Dave Noll and Cleve Keller.
The channel has also ordered a one hour special/back door pilot of Shock Therapy, produced by BBC Worldwide Productions and adapted from the BBC UK format, Fat & Fatter. The special aims to help addicted young people by pairing them with an extreme version of themselves in order to “shock” them to change their lives and habits for the better. Izzie Pick Ashcroft and Jane Tranter are executive producers.