The Musketeers, Peaky Blinders headline new home of BBC drama
TOP new British drama has a new home on Foxtel's BBC First channel.
Like America's television industry, the British small screen is experiencing a renaissance in drama and comedy.
Film stars like Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Cillian Murphy and Daniel Radcliffe are just some of the big names starring in new BBC dramas.
"The diversity and talent attracted to BBC scripted content is world class," said Natalie Edgar, director of television at BBC First.
"Artists recognise there are really interesting roles and a shift in narrative. Television is where diversity is lying at the moment."
Headlining the new channel is The Musketeers, the latest incarnation of Alexandre Dumas's literary French heroes.
The Borgias star Luke Pasqualino plays a young D'Artagnan in the historical action series.
"I think it's done quite well in terms of the origin and how you first meet D'Artagnan, and it sets up his journey for the rest of the series," Pasqualino told APN.
"It turns out the Musketeers need D'Artagnan as much as D'Artagnan needs the Musketeers.
"They see something in D'Artagnan which maybe reminds them of themselves at that age, that young, keen eagerness with a huge appetite for justice which spurs him on."
Nearly two centuries since the Three Musketeers entered European folklore, Athos, Porthos and Aramis still hold our fascination.
"I think it's the same reason we're still making Shakespeare," Pasqualino said.
"If the foundation of a good story is still there, then people are still going to want to see it.
"The fact that we have the opportunity to spread such an incredible story out over 10 hours instead of two hours in a movie gives us a lot more to play with."
Period gangster saga Peaky Blinders is another top-billing show for the new channel.
The BAFTA Award-winning series has been compared to Boardwalk Empire and features Aussie rocker Nick Cave on its soundtrack.
Annabelle Wallis stars opposite Cillian Murphy and Kiwi actor Sam Neill in the drama set on the lawless streets of post-war Birmingham.
"It's a part of British history that doesn't often get glamorised and mythologised," Wallis told The Guide.
"Americans are so good at mythologising their subculture, while we're very much Downton Abbey."
Wallis plays undercover agent Grace, posing as an innocent Irish barmaid in the edgy, artfully shot series.
"She's quite a dark horse in a sense that she has a very mysterious background and you never quite know where she's coming from," she said.
"She's driven from a loss or a pain that happened to her at some point in her life and that drives her into these slums of Birmingham, and into this line of work."
The channel's first locally commissioned series, Banished, will air later this year.
The seven-part drama is set in 18th century Australia and stars David Wenham as Governor Arthur Phillip.
The Musketeers airs on Sundays at 8.30pm on BBC First.
Our top BBC First picks
*Peaky Blinders - Thursdays at 8.30pm
Cillian Murphy and Sam Neill play enemies in this post-war Birmingham gangster saga.
*Burton and Taylor - Thursday at 6pm
Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West portray Hollywood's original "it" couple Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
*The Politician's Husband - Mondays at 8.30pm
Former Doctor Who David Tennant and Emily Watson star in this drama about a wife whose political career eclipses her husband's.
*Blandings - Fridays at 8.30pm
Little Britain's David Walliams and Jennifer Saunders star in this new period comedy
Debuting in September: A Young Doctor's Notebook (Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm) and The Honourable Woman (Maggie Gyllenhaal).