LONDON - Kylie Minogue will make her TV return, Jonathan Rhys Myers will star in "Dracula," and Dominic Cooper will play James Bond creator Ian Fleming in a mini-series as part of BSkyB's biggest original drama slate yet.
The slate, unveiled Thursday and put together by head of drama Anne Mensah, will put 70 hours of drama across the company's portfolio of networks, including Sky1, Sky Atlantic, Sky Living and Sky Arts.
The drama push is part of an initiative by the company, in which Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. owns a 39 percent stake, to boost its spending on original U.K. productions by 50 percent to $960 million (£600 million) by 2014.
“At Sky we have a strong ambition to deliver modern, original dramas that are both entertaining and intelligent," Mensah said. "We seek to bring our customers the most innovative and bold pieces produced by some of the brightest talent in drama programming today. Our broad range of entertainment channels has allowed us to commission this diverse and rich drama slate, providing customers with a wealth of choice."
Stuart Murphy, director of BSkyB's entertainment channels, said: ”These new commissions bring together world-class talent, both on and off screen, and are unique pieces of television that exemplify the scale of our ambition."
The four-part mini-series about Fleming will air on Sky Atlantic and is for now entitled Fleming. It is set during World War II when British Naval intelligence hired Fleming for an undercover mission against Nazi Germany.
Sky Arts, meanwhile, will bring back its Playhouse Presents series of one-off dramas. Sky touted the directorial debuts of actors Idris Elba, Matt Smith (Doctor Who) and Marc Warren as part of the series.
Minogue and Vanessa Redgrave will have roles in dramas in this year's series.
About a quarter of a century after she quit Australian soap opera Neighbours, Minogue will appear in black comedy drama Hey Diddly Dee opposite Homeland star David Harewood. The project is a whodunnit about a group of actors putting on a play about Andy Warhol. Last year, Minogue had a role in Leos Carax's Cannes film festival entry Holy Motors.
Redgrave will star in Union Square. "A disturbance at Union Square leads to some strange encounters for two policemen in this funny and poignant portrait of loneliness in the city," the project description says.
Previously announced Dracula, starring Rhys Myers, will also be part of the BSkyB drama push and will air on Sky Living. The company said it will begin filming this summer.