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Law & Order comes to UK, reversing transatlantic script flow
Â· ITV commissions British version of US crime series
Â· London to be setting for initial 13-episode run
The Guardian, Friday 4 January 2008
ITV is lining up a British version of the hit crime drama Law & Order in a rare example of an American-scripted programme being remade for a UK audience.
Britain has long had success in exporting shows to be remade for US audiences, from Till Death Us Do Part to The Office, whereas UK broadcasters usually take American versions of programmes.
ITV is understood to be in "advanced talks" with the American network NBC about the new show, which is expected to be called Law & Order: London.
The British production company Kudos, which makes the BBC1 dramas Life On Mars and Spooks, will co-produce the new series - which will be based on the American version's scripts - with NBC Universal.
The UK show, which is expected to be given an initial 13-episode run - long by British standards - would be the first English-language version outside the US.
NBC has had success with Russian and French versions of the series spin-offs Special Victims Unit and Criminal Intent. The British show would be the first foreign spin-off of the main franchise.
Law & Order is the longest running crime series on American television, entering its 18th season this week. It is the second-longest running US television series, outdistanced only by cowboy classic Gunsmoke.
Law & Order was created in 1990 by American drama producer Dick Wolf, a former classmate of George Bush, and has starred Fred Thompson, who is campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination.
The show proved a success in Britain when it aired on Channel Five and several versions of the franchise air on other UK channels.
ITV hopes to begin production in April to broadcast the show next year. It would fit with ITV1's new schedule, announced yesterday, focusing on hour-long dramas to air in the 9pm slot three nights a week before the resurrected News at Ten.
Kudos, which also makes the con-artist drama Hustle, was recently bought by Shine, the production company owned by Rupert Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth.
Shine is also currently in the process of buying American production company Reveille, which was set up by the recently appointed NBC Entertainment co-chairman Ben Silverman.
The British deal forms part of NBC's aim to double its international revenues over three years.
It is thought the British version would also make it back to the US on one of NBC's cable channels, such as USA or Bravo.