Zai Bennett Hails ‘Chernobyl’ Emmy Success As “Coming of Age” For Comcast’s Sky

Jared Harris and Stellan Skarsgard in 'Chernobyl'

EXCLUSIVE: Zai Bennett, managing director of content at Sky U.K., has said hailed Chernobyls success at the Emmys as a “coming of age” story for the Comcast-owned broadcaster.

Chernobyl was one of the big winners at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday night, picking up three prizes, including outstanding limited series. It added to the nuclear disaster drama’s haul of seven awards at the Creative Arts Emmys last week.

Sky commissioned Chernobyl with HBO in 2017 as the first project out of their high-end global drama partnership. The show, which charts the fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion in 1986, was produced by Jane Featherstone’s Sister Pictures.

Zai Bennett Sky

“This is a landmark win for us,” Bennett told Deadline. “Ten Emmys for what is a Sky original show in the U.K. — that’s part of our original programming coming of age, following on the back of winning seven Baftas [in May].”

“In all the genres we make television in now, it is being recognized as ‘the best.’ It’s been a long journey, perception often lags behind reality a little bit… I feel like we’ve been doing great stuff for a while, but it does feel like the outside world — which is truly important — now acknowledges it. We are shoulder to shoulder with the best in the world.”

Chernobyl‘s Emmys success was part of a dazzling night for the Brits, who were involved in 13 of the 27 awards, as the likes of Charlie Brooker, Jodie Comer, John Oliver, and Ben Whishaw took home statues. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s comedy Fleabag was also a big winner, picking up four prizes including outstanding comedy series.

In a statement emailed to Deadline, BBC director of content Charlotte Moore said it was an “outstanding night for British talent at the Emmys.” The first series of Fleabag aired on BBC3 in 2016, while the second was shown earlier this year. Amazon has the U.S. rights.

Bennett said the Brit invasion shows how U.K. broadcasters seek out strong voices and back them at an early stage in the development process.

He explained: “The thread that you see there is that we invest in this true authorship. These voices are unmediated and we are enabling them to tell the story they want to tell, and at the highest possible level.

“As commissioning entities, we want to find these people and we are willing to invest not only the money, but the time and effort to make them. We are there at the beginning of these things, they aren’t just shopped around, and that’s what makes them so special.”

Sky and HBO are preparing more drama together, starting with Origin Pictures-produced Catherine the Great, which stars Helen Mirren and will broadcast later this fall.

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