EXCLUSIVE: Viacom’s British broadcaster Channel 5 is getting back into the drama business – commissioning a four-part psychological thriller – its first original drama order in four years.
The broadcaster has ordered Cold Call from Chalkboard TV. Written by Karyn Dougan-Buckland and Mark Buckland, Cold Call is a dark thriller, set in Manchester, detailing the story of a single mother caught up in a fraudulent cold call scam that threatens to see her life unravel.
It stars Sally Lindsay as June, a hard working mother left determined to salvage her family’s future after a phone call that changes her life. Following the death of her elderly mother and fuelled by a bubbling rage, June attempts to hunt down those responsible in order to seek her revenge.
The show was ordered by Channel 5 Commissioning Executive Sebastian Cardwell, who has lead the broadcaster’s charge to get back into the drama business, albeit at a lower price point. It comes after C5 Director of Programmes Ben Frow handed British producers a challenge to develop series that cost around £250,000 an episode – a small fraction of the £5M per ep that a drama such as The Crown costs.
Channel 5 has largely stayed out of the scripted business since its takeover by Viacom in 2014. Its largely improvised cop drama Suspects, which was produced by Fremantle Media’s Newman Street and starred Cold Feet’s Fay Ripley, ran for 23 episodes across five seasons. It also aired mockumentary comedy Borderline, produced by Ralf Little’s Little Rock Pictures, for twelve episodes across two seasons.
Chalkboard has form in low-budget drama; it produces Scottish soap Logan High for CBBC, the kids channel operated by British public broadcaster BBC. The show, which is based on Dutch scripted reality format First Years, centres around kids in secondary school and the challenges posed for teenagers on the cusp of adulthood. Chalkboard, which was founded in 2013 by producers including former BBC producer Mike Benson.
Cold Call will go into production later this year, and will air on Channel 5 in 2019.
Frow said, “The commission of Cold Call demonstrates our ambition to offer talented emerging indies the opportunity to deliver brilliant drama in prime time. Cold Call is not for the faint hearted and will have viewers hooked from beginning to end.”
Lindsay said, “I’m incredibly excited to be working with Channel 5 and Chalkboard on Cold Call. The pitch was a complete page turner, the story jumping off the page straight away. I can’t wait to bring this very modern thriller alive; exploring how far a very normal woman will be stretched when she is horribly deceived and her entire life and family are destroyed. I think the subject matter is extremely of the moment with the divide of the haves and have-nots getting ever wider.”
Benson added, “We’re over the moon to have the chance to continue to build the scripted side of Chalkboard with Channel 5 – they share our ambition to create something darkly thrilling, which leaves you punching the air and covering your eyes in equal measure.”