The Middle

Good news for fans of American comedy with word today that ABC in the US has renewed Modern Family, Cougar Town and The Middle for new seasons.

The multi Emmy award-winning Modern Family has been given a third season alongside thirds for both Cougar Town and The Middle.

Drama Grey’s Anatomy and its spin-off Private Practice have also been greenlit for new seasons, with and eighth confirmed for Grey’s and a fifth for Private Practice.

Castle will also return with a fourth season.

ABC is yet to commit to new seasons for Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters, with the latter given only a 50% chance of returning.

Source: Digital Spy

Today (Tuesday 3 August, 2010) Stuart Murphy, Director of Programmes, Sky 1 HD unveiled Sky 1’s autumn line-up at a showcase for Sky’s premium entertainment channel.

Following on from the recent announcements surrounding HBO and original comedy, Sky 1 HD continues to invest heavily in original content across all genres this season – including the best mix of comedy, drama, entertainment and factual programming and a strong line-up of newly acquired series from the US.

Murphy commented: “As a team we’ve made a commitment to turn the channel into one that will not only give more value to current subscribers, but one which will also encourage those who don’t currently have Sky to get us.”  He continued “In just over a year we’ve shifted the budget around to put terrestrial levels of spend behind our commissioned shows…it means a focus on ‘less is more,’ commissioning fewer shows, which allows us to hire the best presenters, actors, writers, production teams and to create shows which have unquestionably high levels of quality.”

In drama, Murphy complemented the upcoming slate for ‘offering programmes of scale, with compelling themes and distinctive voices, featuring the best on and off screen talent’. New to Sky 1 this season are thorne starring David Morrissey leading an all-star cast in the gritty adaptations of two of Mark Billingham’s bestselling crime novels; and Mad Dogs starring Max Beesley, Philip Glenister, John Simm, Marc Warren and Ben Chaplin is a darkly comic twisted four-part tale from an original script Cris Cole.

Sky 1 HD launches its first foray into original comedy for over 10 years with Little Crackers this December. The season of autobiographical comic shorts brings some of Britain’s best-loved comedy stars, including Catherine Tate, Victoria Wood, Dawn French, Kathy Burke, Stephen Fry and Bill Bailey to Sky 1 HD this Christmas, in dramatisations of stories from their pasts.

In entertainment, Murphy promised ‘presenters audiences love’ and ‘formats that are gripping’. The autumn schedule kicks off with Must Be The Music on Sunday 15 August. The series, hosted by Radio 1 DJ Fearne Cotton, offers authentic acts and performers a national platform to showcase their talents and features an outspoken panel of judges including Dizzee Rascal, Jamie Cullum and Sharleen Spiteri. Fifteen semi-finalists will fight for the opportunity to perform live at Wembley Arena in front of an audience of 10,000 people and to win the £100,000 prize money, plus creative and promotional support to help them kick-start a career in the music business. In October, James Corden leads out the teams as a second and cheekier season of the riotous sports panel show kicks off in a new, later, time slot, with Jamie Redknapp, comedian John Bishop and Georgie Thompson all returning as regular panellists. Then in January, 2011 a second wave of dance fever is set to sweep the nation as Davina McCall hosts a super-sized series two of the Sky 1 HD spectacular, Got To Dance, with returning judges Adam Garcia, Kimberley Wyatt and Ashley Banjo, and a new top prize of £250,000.

In Factual, Murphy said Sky 1 HD were on the lookout for shows that “make viewers laugh out loud, inform them in surprising ways and entertain both young and old.”  The brand new series, An Idiot Abroad, features Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant sending their best mate, Karl Pilkington on a global voyage of discovery. A typical ‘little Englander’, Karl isn’t much of a traveller and prefers to holiday in Wales, but now he’s set to experience a variety of people and cultures as he explores the Seven Wonders of the World in this unmissable eight-part series launching in September. Also returning this autumn is a new four part series,

Coke Zero Street

Striker presented by Wayne Rooney, that sees the Manchester United superstar launch a new search for the UK’s best street footballer.

Returning US series include the multiple Emmy® nominee Modern Family; brand new The Simpsons featuring guest starring roles from Ricky Gervais, Russell Brand, Kim Cattrall, Jon Hamm, Hugh Laurie, Daniel Radcliffe and Rachel Weisz; the award-winning medical drama House starring Hugh Laurie returns for a seventh season; plus there’s brand new series of JJ Abrams’ boundary-pushing drama Fringe and new Bones, NCIS: Los Angeles, Caprica and Stargate Universe.

Murphy also unveiled a whole host of new commissions and acquisitions at the showcase including:

Sinbad (13 x 60, Impossible Pictures). From the Emmy® and BAFTA® winning Impossible Pictures (Primeval), this new production promises a 21st century take on the classic 8th century iconic hero, Sinbad, reinvigorating the hero’s adventures for a contemporary audience. The series will be exec produced by Impossible Pictures’ Sophie Gardiner and Tim Haines from scripts by an award winning staple of writers including Jack Lothian (Ashes To Ashes, Shameless) and Neil Biswas (Skins, Martina Cole’s The Take). Commissioned by Elaine Pyke, Head of Drama, Sky 1 HD.

Dogumentary (8 x 60, Pulse Films). A brand new observational documentary from the makers of Pinapple Dance Studios centres on the world of dog grooming salons, doggy day care centres and vets’ clinics where cameras will follow the people who work at them, as well as their clients. But in Dogumentary the stars of the show are the pampered pooches themselves, and these are no ordinary canines – they can actually talk. In surreal moments, the mutts talk to each other in funny and off-the-wall exchanges about their lives, loves and observations on the world. Commissioned by Celia Taylor, Head of Factual, Sky 1 HD.

Ross Kemp Extreme World (5 x 60, Tiger Aspect). The BAFTA®-winning documentary team return as Ross Kemp reports from some of the most dangerous places on Earth. Over five hard-hitting episodes, Ross travels to Mexico, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and Chicago to learn how international organised crime, terrorists and local criminal networks have created alliances that are destroying millions of lives. Plus, in a UK-based episode, he reveals the grim truth about people trafficking in Britain. Commissioned by Celia Taylor, Head of Factual, Sky 1 HD.

Prince William and The Tusk Trust Project (Working Title, 1 x 60, Spun Gold). In an exclusive documentary, presented by conservationist and adventurer Ben Fogle, Sky 1 HD gains unprecedented access to Prince William’s first official visit to Africa as he travels to Botswana, the home of wildlife conservation charity Tusk Trust. Marking the charity’s 20th anniversary, royal patron Prince William talks about his love of Africa, his passion for conservation and staying grounded, before challenging Ben to run a fund-raising marathon in Kenya. Commissioned by Celia Taylor, Head of Factual, Sky 1 HD.

Raising Hope (13 x 30, 20th Century Fox International Television Distribution). From the makers of My Name Is Earl comes a new single-camera comedy which charts the chaos an unexpected arrival brings to an already flawed household. Parents Virginia (Martha Plimpton) and Burt (Garret Dillahunt) are rocked by the news that their son Jimmy (newcomer Lucas Neff) has fathered a baby boy with a wanted felon, Lucy. Now with Lucy locked up in jail, Jimmy is charged with raising his child with hilarious consequences. Deal brokered by Sarah Wright, Acquisitions Controller, Entertainment, Sky.

The Middle (46 x 30, Warner Bros International Television Distribution). A laugh-out-loud family sitcom from the US, The Middle introduces the Hecks, an ordinary family struggling to survive life – and each other – in Middle America. Starring Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Neil Flynn (Scrubs), The Middle takes the traditional sitcom and tweaks it with a quirky twist. Deal brokered by Louisa Forsyth, Acquisitions Manager, Entertainment, Sky.

Ride-Along (13 x 60, 20th Century Fox International Television Distribution). A gritty new police drama from The Shield creator Shawn Ryan comes to Sky 1 HD. Jennifer Beals stars as a hard-nosed Chicago cop in a city swamped by crime and corruption. In this series, the audience is the passenger, taking an unpredictable ride through the streets of Chicago. Deal brokered by Sarah Wright, Acquisitions Controller, Entertainment, Sky.

Lone Star (13 x 60, 20th Century Fox International Television Distribution). Newcomer James Wolk is Robert/Bob Allen, a charismatic schemer who has meticulously constructed two lives. As Bob he lives in Houston and is happily married to Cat, the beautiful daughter of Clint (Jon Voight), the patriarch of an ultra-wealthy Texas oil family. Bob’s a devoted husband, charming Cat and her family to cement his position in the rich family business he aims to clean out. But 400 miles away in the suburban west Texas town of Midland, he’s known as Robert and lives with his girlfriend, Lindsay. Here, he plays the perfect boyfriend while secretly swindling local investors of their savings. Bob/Robert has successfully lived both lives for years without arousing any suspicions… until now. Deal brokered by Sarah Wright, Acquisitions Controller, Entertainment, Sky.

Murphy concluded by saying: “Sky is always surprising people – with its technology – Sky+, HD, 3D – its deals – Premiership, HBO output deal, the deals we’ve announced today – and its channels … and it’s crucial Sky 1 HD continues to surprise people too. I hope that what you’ll see over the coming weeks and months on Sky 1 HD will continue to surprise you and show you it’s a golden time for Sky, and for each of our customers.”


Sky1 HD today announces a deal with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution for the exclusive UK television rights to the critically acclaimed family sitcom THE MIDDLE, starring Emmy® Award winner Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) and created by Eileen Heisler & DeAnn Heline (both How I Met Your Mother).

The single-camera comedy will begin its first season this Summer on Sky 1 HD and Sky 1 and will build on the channel’s growing reputation for great comedy shows kick-started by the multi award-winning The Simpsons and Modern Family. The announcement was made today by Louisa Forsyth, Acquisitions Manager, Entertainment, and Jeffrey R. Schlesinger, President, Warner Bros. International Television Distribution.

THE MIDDLE stars Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) as Frankie Heck in a comedy about raising a family and lowering your expectations. Middle-aged, middle class and living in the middle of the country, this harried wife and working mother of three uses her dry wit and sense of humor to try to get her family through each day intact.

Frankie has a job (not a career) selling cars at the town’s only surviving car dealer, with the support of her friend and colleague, Bob (Chris Kattan, Saturday Night Live). Her husband, Mike (Neil Flynn, Scrubs), is a calamity-prone manager at the local quarry.

Frankie and Mike try to balance their jobs with raising their troublesome kids with love and solid practicality. Axl (Charlie McDermott, Frozen River) is the oldest, a teenage jock with discipline issues and a penchant for parading around in his underwear. Sue (Eden Sher, Weeds) is their extraordinarily ordinary pre-teen daughter who fails at everything with great gusto, and Brick (Atticus Shaffer, Hancock), is an odd kid whose best friend is his backpack. Together, they’re putting THE MIDDLE on the map.

Louisa Forsyth commented: “I’m delighted we have secured THE MIDDLE. It’s extremely funny and has been a big hit in the US, leading into Modern Family. Last week we announced Sky 1 HD’s first raft of UK comedies. This show adds to that momentum and the reputation Sky 1 HD has for bringing the best US and UK shows to the small screen. We feel this is one of the absolute best.”

Jeffrey Schlesinger said: “Sky 1 HD has made a significant commitment to expand its comedy programming offerings, and we think THE MIDDLE is a perfect fit for their audience, a family-based series that entertainingly – and realistically – depicts the challenges families face today. The show has performed strongly in the US on ABC, and we expect it to become a hit with UK viewers, as well.”

THE MIDDLE returns for a second season this fall in the US on the ABC Television Network. Entertainment Weekly declared the first season of THE MIDDLE to be “beautifully written and acted,” while The Washington Post proclaimed it “a triumph.” TV Guide Magazine said that “Patricia Heaton proves why she has all those Emmys in this refreshingly sweet family sitcom,” while The Wall Street Journal exulted that Heaton “shines in a finely tuned performance as Frankie Heck.”


  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1