BBC, Amazon team for apocalyptic comedy

Scripted-logo-460_2Neil GaimanUK pubcaster the BBC and subscription VOD service are creating a six-part comedy based on the Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett novel Good Omens.

Gaiman (American Gods, pictured) will be showrunner on the 6x60mins series, which is set to go out on the BBC and Amazon in 2018.

Amazon will get the global premiere rights, the BBC debuting it on British linear TV afterwards.

The commission is significant for the BBC’s production arm, BBC Studios, which is set to become a commercial subsidiary with tha ability to produce for third-party channels and services after receiving regulatory approval to do so.

BBC Studios director Mark Linsey said the commission “demonstrates there is considerable appetite for BBC Studios to make programmes for other broadcasters”.

The prodco will coproduce Good Omens with Narrativia and The Blank Corporation.

BBC commercial arm BBC Worldwide licensed the global SVOD rights to Amazon, and has first-run distribution rights for territories were Prime Video does not operate and global second-window rights.

The BBC and Amazon have previously collaborated on The Collection, a Paris-set period drama set in the world of high-end fashion.

Good Omens is a satire about the prophesised end of the world, in which a fussy angel and fast-living demon who’ve been living on Earth decide they enjoy their mortal lives and attempt to sabotage the apocalypse.

Cult novelist Gaiman will executive produce with Caroline Skinner (Doctor Who) and BBC head of comedy Chris Sussman (Fleabag ).

Gaiman and the late Disc World novels scribe Pratchett together wrote Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, which was released in 1990.

“Almost 30 years ago Terry Pratchett and I wrote the funniest novel we could about the end of the world, populated with angels and demons, not to mention an eleven-year-old Antichrist, witch-finders and the four horsepeople of the apocalypse,” said Gaiman. “It became many people’s favourite book.

“Three decades later, it’s going to make it to the screen. I can’t think of anyone we’d rather make it with than BBC Studios, and I just wish Sir Terry was alive to see it.”

Referencing current geopolitical instability around the world, the BBC’s Sussman said: “It feels like a good time to be making a comedy about an impending global apocalypse.”

“Spanning not only the universe but also the entirety of time, Neil Gaiman has created a story that may be the largest ever told on television,” said Joe Lewis, head of comedy and drama at Amazon Studios. “We’re excited to be working with BBC Studios to bring Neil and Terry Pratchett’s incredible book to life and to Prime members everywhere.”

Amazon has also commissioned a second season of its new drama Sneaky Pete, which Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) co-created. The show became Amazon’s second-most-streamed original series for its first day release on January 13, behind The Man in the High Castle.