Television

Spike to launch as FTA channel in UK

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MUMBAI: A new free-to-air TV channel will launch with a bang in millions of UK homes on 15 April, when Spike goes on air offering a mix of British commissions and big-name talent alongside a range of acclaimed drama and entertainment.

Original commissions will feature prominently on Spike from launch. Police Interceptors Unleashed marks a return to British TV screens for actor and former professional footballer, Vinnie Jones, who will front the series, following the work of the high-speed police interception unit. Another new series, Tattoo Disasters UK, will seek out some of the most painful examples of British body art and the individuals having to learn to live with their inky mistakes.

Spike’s launch line-up will also feature some of the most acclaimed and talked about TV drama of recent times, including Breaking Bad, which will be broadcast from start to finish for the first time on British TV. The latest and fifth series of The Walking Dead will also be available on Spike, the first time it will be accessible free-to-air to British TV viewers.

Other acquired dramas that will broadcast on Spike from launch include the British TV premiere of mythological blockbuster, Olympus, Emmy nominated Justified and crime thriller Sons of Anarchy.

Lip Sync Battle, hosted by two-time Grammy Award-winner LL COOL J, will be the entertainment flagship of Spike’s launch schedule. The half-hour original series – based on the cultural phenomenon of lip sync battling seen by millions on television and online – has been created by Jimmy Fallon and his Eight Million Plus Productions, Stephen Merchant, John Krasinski, Matador and Casey Patterson. Merchant also features on-screen as one of the many A-list musical combatants in the series.

Social media comedy phenomenon, Fail Army, has also been reworked for television and will be introduced to UK TV audiences by Spike.

Spike will also be the UK TV home of mixed martial arts. The channel will televise Bellator MMA, the emerging sports franchise featuring many of the world’s greatest fighters including British champion, Liam McGeary, and Paul Daley. Spike has also signed an exclusive deal with the British Association of Mixed Martial Arts (BAMMA) for its tournaments, which will feature in a Saturday 'Fight Night.'

The channel will also offer a range of reality series from Spike in the US, including Catch a Contractor and Frankenfood, as well as repeats of some of Channel 5's most popular factual output.

The 24-hour network will be available from launch on the majority of the UK’s digital TV platforms, including Sky TV, Freesat and Freeview, on which it will occupy channel slot 31.

Channel 5 programme director Ben Frow, whose editorial team will oversee commissioning, scheduling and acquisitions for the new channel, said, “Spike is a driven, high-energy channel offering a point of view and programme mix I think is different from anything else on British TV right now. I can’t wait to see our viewers embrace this exhilarating new channel.”

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