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Discovery moving into international drama

Phil-CraigDiscovery has ordered its first original scripted series for outside of the US and has more international drama in development.

Discovery Canada’s first original will be Frontier, a period drama about the fur trade in 18th century North America. Canadian indie Take the Shot will produce six-part, one-hour series, which will go into production this summer.

The news comes as Discovery prepares to ramp up drama efforts at its core domestic US operation and new international programming boss Phil Craig has said his team is developing a drama special, the first out of Discovery Networks International.

Speaking in Cannes this week, the new DNI’s chief content officer, Craig (pictured), confirmed its first drama is in the works. “We’re developing one special,” he said. “There are some amazing stories that lend themselves naturally to drama and that also feel very Discovery.”

Craig, who has just started at DNI, said the drama was realistically a ‘year one, or year one and a half’ project for him. He added that DNI’s will be moving into drama much more slowly than Discovery US, which under the new leadership of Rich Ross, has committed to making a raft of original dramas.

“We won’t be doing [scripted] on the same scale as Rich,” Craig said. “He has spoken about 12-to-16 shows in his first year and obviously we will look at how that does around the world.”

Speaking about the Canadian drama move, Edwina Follows, director of commissioning and production, Discovery Networks Canada, said: “With its fast paced action, Frontier offers richly drawn characters set in the untamed world of the fur trade. It’s the perfect fit for our audience, Discovery Canada is pleased to be working with Take the Shot on this exciting new exploit into scripted series television.”

Discovery is part of the CTV stable of specialty channels in Canada, where regulation dictates pay TV channels must be part-owned by a local company. It is run as a JV with Discovery Communications.