SundanceTV, in partnership with UK broadcaster Channel 4, has issued a six-episode order for the Danny Boyle cop satire, “Babylon.” US-UK co-productions like “Babylon” have become increasingly common in scripted television over the past few years, including Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” (co-produced by Sam Mendes’ Neal Street Productions and Sky).
Executive produced by Boyle, “Babylon” centers on an ambitious, young American public relations professional, played by indie darling Brit Marling, who is brought in to usher London’s Metropolitan Police into the age of new media. Former “Murphy’s Law” star, James Nesbitt plays opposite Marling as the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.
With writing duo Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong at its helm, “Babylon” has limitless potential as a series. Together, Bain and Armstrong have created three comedy shows together: “Peep Show,” “The Old Guys” and “Fresh Meat.” Combine their shared resume with Armstrong’s recent experience writing for American audiences on Armando Iannucci’s HBO hit, “Veep,” and it becomes clear that SundanceTV and Channel 4 have certainly hit the jackpot in terms of assembling all the necessary ingredients for success.
The “Babylon” feature-length pilot, which Boyle also directed, aired in the UK back in February. Channel 4 will air the six follow-up episodes this fall, while SundanceTV plans to roll them out in 2015. SundanceTV has not, as of yet, announced any plans to broadcast the Boyle-helmed pilot.
“As you’d expect with Danny Boyle’s first foray into television, this project is unrelentingly original, and underneath its stylish surface has true heart,” noted Sarah Barnett, President of SundanceTV.
Indeed, as the director of the pilot and an executive producer of the series, Boyle has and will continue to play an important role in shaping the series. SundanceTV and Channel 4, however, do not appear keen on leaving any aspect of the series subject to fate — having already locked in “Filth” mastermind Jon S. Baird to direct the first three episodes and newcomer Sally El Hosaini (“My Brother the Devil”) as the director for the final three episodes, as Boyle will not be returning to the director’s chair.