PBS will add a Civil War hospital drama from Ridley Scott to its Sunday night lineup. The unnamed drama, slated for 2016, is based on true stories and set in Alexandria, VA. The drama, which has an initial six-episode order, follows two volunteer nurses on opposite sides of the war in the union hospital which is a family-owned hotel-turned-hospital. One nurse is a staunch New England abolitionist; the other a willful young Confederate belle. Alexandria was the longest occupied Confederate city of the war.
PBS chief Paula Kerger distinguished this series from the slew of original dramas on TV today during the network’s portion of the TCA press tour, saying hers is “based on fact” and “shines a light on a part of history.
“We do really great history documentaries,” she said, but “for a lot of people the best way to bring them into these stories is through drama. We’re not going to do a drama for drama sake…our goal is not just to entertain, but to educate and inspire.” The project has been several years in the making, she said.
PBS also said this morning it will create eight to 10 new programming specials across approximately 20 hours a year in co-production with BBC and BBC Worldwide. That includes both singles and flagship multi-part series, to air on PBS stations nationwide. Specials will begin airing as early as this summer.
Also today, PBS revealed a slate of primetime specials about the Vietnam War, which will lead to the 2017 premiere of Ken Burns’ latest documentary The Vietnam War. In additions, the pubcaster will air a pair of new documentaries premiering in July: The Bomb, a history of nuclear weapons, and Uranium: Twisting The Dragon’s Tail, a look at the science of the weaponry. Both docus coincide with the 70th anniversary of the first atomic bomb explosion.