TORONTO/LOS ANGELES – July 29, 2017 – CBC and SundanceTV have greenlit a new eight-part drama miniseries “Unspeakable,” focused on the tainted blood scandal in Canada in the early 1980s. Created by Robert C. Cooper (“Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency,” “Stargate SG-1,” “Stargate: Atlantis”), who will also serve as showrunner and executive producer, the project is produced by Cooper’s Mezo Entertainment and will be filmed in Canada in early 2018 for broadcast on CBC in Canada and SundanceTV in the U.S., with AMC Studios managing worldwide distribution outside of Canada.
Based on first-person experience and two non-fiction books, Bad Blood by Vic Parsons and The Gift of Death by Andre Picard, “Unspeakable” chronicles the emergence of HIV and Hepatitis C in Canada in the early 1980s and the tragedy that resulted after thousands of people were unnecessarily infected by tainted blood. One of the largest medical disasters in Canadian history, the blood scandal triggered a federal inquiry and precedent-setting lawsuit resulting in billions of dollars of compensation to victims. The series is a passion project for Cooper, who himself was a victim, having contracted Hepatitis C from tainted blood.
“I am thrilled and, frankly, somewhat daunted by the opportunity to tell this story that has deeply affected so many people,” said Cooper. “CBC is the perfect place for this project and I am grateful to Sally Catto and everyone at the broadcaster for their support. I am also extremely excited to have SundanceTV and AMC Studios on board and thankful to Jan Diedrichsen of SundanceTV and Rick Olshansky and Stefan Reinhardt of AMC Studios for their enthusiasm for the project.”
“Unspeakable is a powerful, character-driven drama that will shine a light on a dark chapter in our recent history through Robert’s passionate and deeply personal storytelling,” said Sally Catto, general manager, programming, CBC. “We look forward to partnering with SundanceTV and AMC Studios to bring this remarkable original Canadian story to audiences at home and around the world.”
“SundanceTV has a reputation for bringing our viewers the best programming from around the world, and the ability to do that with a creative partner like Rob, who has done such remarkable work with our sister network BBC America, is something truly special,” said Jan Diedrichsen, General Manager, SundanceTV and Sundance Now. “This drama, while set in Canada, really is the kind of story that will resonate around the world and, while it took place 30 years ago, is very current in its themes and ability to capture audiences today.”
A CBC and SundanceTV original series, “Unspeakable” is produced by Mezo Entertainment, with Cooper and Meridian Artists’ Glenn Cockburn serving as executive producers. Cooper is currently showrunning season two of “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” for BBC America, Netflix and AMC Studios.
CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada’s national public broadcaster and one of its largest cultural institutions. We are Canada’s trusted source of news, information and Canadian entertainment. Deeply rooted in communities all across the country, CBC/Radio-Canada offers diverse content in English, French and eight Indigenous languages. We also provide international news and information from a uniquely Canadian perspective. In 2017, CBC/Radio-Canada will be at the heart of the celebrations and conversations with special 2017-themed multiplatform programming and events across Canada.
Since its launch in 1996, SundanceTV has remained true to founder Robert Redford’s mission to celebrate creativity and distinctive storytelling through unique voices and narratives found in the best independent films. From delivering critically acclaimed Emmy®, Golden Globe® and Peabody Award-winning television featuring some of the world’s most talented creators and performers, to showcasing some of the most compelling and iconic films across genres and generations, SundanceTV is a smart and thought-provoking entertainment destination. SundanceTV is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc.; its sister networks include AMC, IFC, BBC America and WE tv. SundanceTV is available across all platforms, including on-air, online at www.sundance.tv, on demand and mobile.
About AMC Studios
AMC Studios is the in-house studio, production and distribution operation for AMC Networks Inc., which owns and operates the AMC, IFC, SundanceTV, WE tv and BBC AMERICA national television networks. AMC Studios’ first series was “The Walking Dead,” which is the highest-rated basic cable program in history and has been the #1 show on television among adults 18-49 for the past four years. Since then, AMC Studios has produced several critically acclaimed, award-winning and culturally distinctive originals for AMC including scripted series “Fear the Walking Dead,” “TURN: Washington’s Spies,” “Halt and Catch Fire,” “Into the Badlands,” “The Son” and forthcoming “The Terror,” as well as unscripted series “Robert Kirkman’s Heroes and Villains of Comic Books,” “James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction,” and “Talking with Chris Hardwick,” the Peabody Award-winning “Rectify,” and “Hap and Leonard,” as well as unscripted forthcoming series “Murder in the Heartland (WT)” for SundanceTV, and for BBC AMERICA, the original series “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.”