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BBC America Moves Into Original Unscripted Programming

BBC America is making its first steps into original U.S.
production with its announcement Monday that it has greenlit two original
series and has several other unscripted series in development.

The two new series, Would
You Rather with Graham Norton
and Hard
Drive with Richard Hammond
will join unscripted programs already featured
on the channel like Top Gear, Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and The Graham Norton Show.

Would You Rather
stars comedian Graham Norton as host of a comedy game show that tests the
knowledge of American comics. The 13 episodes will premiere later this year as
part of BBCA's Ministry of Laughs

Top Gear host
Richard Hammond stars in Hard Drive,
based on the BBC format World's Toughest
Driving Tests
. The one-hour series features Hammond traveling the U.S. and
compete with local experts in driving tough vehicles.

"Top Gear, Gordon Ramsay and Graham Norton
continue to deliver ratings and strong ad revenue," said BBC America GM Perry
Simon in a statement. "It makes sense to offer our viewers even more of
what they love about the channel by developing compatible original programs
featuring some of our biggest stars."

In development is a pilot with Top Gear presenter called James
May's Man Lab U.S.,
based on his British format of the same name, where
he'll team with an American sidekick to help men rediscover the skills that
define what "being a man" is about.

Also on the development slate is AUTO Biography, which tracks the history of a vintage car; Battlemodo, a project with tech site
Gizmodo that tests products against each other; culinary competition series No Kitchen Required; and a back door
pilot for Shock Therapy, which pairs
young addicts with extreme versions of themselves.

Simon also said BBC America is working on its first original
scripted series.

The network is coming off its highest-rated quarter ever, up
30% year-over-year in primetime and 31% in total day.