As it plans to officially re-brand next week, Virgin Media Television – the new name for TV3 Group from August 30th – has unveiled its Autumn schedule as well as details of its new sports channel Virgin Media Sports.
In what is the biggest media rebrand in recent years, the broadcaster will start its new incarnation with three main channels- Virgin Media One (formally TV3), Virgin Media Two ( formally 3e) and Virgin Media Three (formally be3). In addition, the broadcaster will launch Virgin Media Sport in mid-September.
The Autumn schedule will see some changes including a new 8m news bulletin as well as the debut of a number of drama and factual programmes. These include a new Irish drama series called series ‘Blood’, featuring BAFTA nominee Adrian Dunbar; a series of specially commissioned programmes to mark 20 years of Independent television in Ireland; ‘Inside James’s’ which takes viewers into the inner workings of one of the busiest hospitals in the country; ‘The Town’, a series filmed across one year in Portlaoise following families facing issues at the heart of Irish society and ‘Revolting Ireland,’ a four-part series fronted by Simon Delaney, which looks at the history of modern protest in Ireland.
Virgin Media One will have up to 10 hours of Irish content each weekday, with regulars like ‘Ireland AM’, ‘Elaine’, ‘The Six O’Clock Show’ and ‘The Tonight Show’ continuing as usual.
Factual programming will also play a big part of this season’s schedule, including the return of the popular ‘True Lives’ documentary strand which will include a number of new documentaries such as ‘Ireland’s Jihadis’ which sees Paul Williams examine Islamic extremism in Ireland. ‘Ireland’s Paedophile Hunters,’ meanwhile, follows a group of Irish women as they hunt down and pursue Irish paedophiles attempting to groom children online.
Elsewhere, the disappearance of Fiona Sinnott is explored 20 years on from her vanishing in ‘Getting Away with Murder while ‘Ireland’s Youngest Grandparents’ is a tell-all documentary following young grandparents across Ireland to discover what it is like to become a grandparent in your 30s. Munster rugby legend Donnacha O’Callaghan, meanwhile, will be the star of ‘Donncha O’Callaghan’s Afterlife’ which follows one of the greats of Irish rugby as he transitions from sport star to everyday life.
In current affairs, ‘The Tonight Show’ returns for a second series, as Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates deconstruct the news while Pat Kenny also returns with a brand new show, ‘Pat Kenny’s Big Debate’.
Sport, meanwhile, will see both the Heineken Champions’ Cup and the Six Nations broadcast on a free-to-air basis on Virgin Media One following the successful debut of TV3 as the new home of the Six Nations earlier this year. The Heineken Champions’ Cup would also remain free to air on Virgin Media One, having been on pay-TV exclusively since 2003.
Speaking at this week’s launch of the Autumn schedule, Virgin Media Television Director of Programming, Bill Malone, said: “It is Virgin Media Television’s investment and commitment to Irish voices, stories and programmes that is the defining feature of our new season schedule, with over 50 new and returning Irish series and programmes alone. Highlights include a new 8pm news bulletin, the launch of original Irish drama series ‘Blood’, the addition of Heineken Champions Cup Rugby, along with the return of viewer favourites Ireland’s Got Talent, Gogglebox Ireland, Living With Lucy, a new-look Ireland AM and a host of new fly-on-the-wall documentary series.”