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Saturday, October 17, 2015


(“Downton Abbey” returns for its fifth series)

Third new global brand launches in South Africa on 18 October

Top-rated British drama series such as Downton Abbey, Wolf Hall and Peaky Blinders will have a new home on South African television from October 18, 2015, when BBC First launches on MultiChoice’s DStv platform.

Following the introduction of BBC Brit (channel 120) and BBC Earth (channel 184) in September, the debut of BBC First makes South Africa the first country in the world to launch all three of BBC Worldwide’s new global genre brands.

BBC First will be available on channel 119 exclusively to DStv Premium customers in South Africa and will air from 18h00 to 01h00 daily.

BBC First is the sparkling new home of the very best original, innovative British drama. With award-winning talent in front of and behind the camera, the channel gives audiences the chance to see unforgettable stories that challenge, immerse and entertain – all from a distinctly British perspective. The new channel will challenge perceptions and exceed expectations while delivering quality entertainment content to discerning viewers.

In October on BBC First, viewers can look forward to highly rated and star-studded BBC drama offerings including Wolf Hall, a historical mini-series based on Hilary Mantel’s Booker-winning novels about the rise of Thomas Cromwell in Henry VIII’s Tudor court, starring Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis (Homeland); and Esio Trot, described by the UK press as a “warm, witty and whimsical” film adaptation of the delightful children’s novel by Roald Dahl, written by Richard Curtis and starring Dame Judi Dench and Dustin Hoffman.

Smash-hit period drama Downton Abbey returns for its much-anticipated fifth series in addition to brand new sci-fi time-travelling heroics in Doctor Who S9 and sun-drenched murder-mystery series Death in Paradise.

BBC First is also home to long-running soap opera EastEnders (celebrating its 30th year of chronicling the ups and downs of the colourful inhabitants of London’s East End), airing Monday to Thursday at 18h00 and Casualty airing Fridays at 18h00.

Joel Churcher, General Manager and Vice President for Africa, BBC Worldwide commented: "The BBC is known for producing outstanding drama with fans of our shows spanning the globe. I’m delighted that we are able to introduce even more innovative, distinctive British drama to the South African market through BBC First, making South Africa the first market to have all three new global genre brands and completing our portfolio line up alongside BBC Brit, BBC Earth, BBC Lifestyle, CBeebies and BBC World News”.

Among the highlights in store for the coming months are the World War One-era gangster drama Peaky Blinders (starring Cillian Murphy), Cold War spy thriller The Game, popular detective series DCI Banks and the new psychological thriller Fortitude, set in a close-knit community in the icy Arctic.

Other top-drawer fare coming up on BBC First is the riveting film Burton and Taylor, centring on the twilight years of this A-list couple’s volatile relationship, starring Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth Taylor and Dominic West as Richard Burton.

A new detective series, Father Brown, stars Mark Williams as a Catholic priest with a penchant for solving crimes in the pastoral English countryside. Set in the 1950s, it is based on the stories of GK Chesterton. And the first season of Happy Valley, the hotly anticipated BAFTA-winning police drama series set in a small town, will also premiere exclusively for BBC First viewers.

For unmissable round-the-clock British drama at its most compelling and innovative, tune in to BBC First, DStv channel 119, from 18h00 tomorrow (October 18, 2015).