Fresh from a masterclass educating the media stars of tomorrow on the route to success, DS caught up with Woolfe to talk about his future plans for the Sky One portfolio, the abandoned remake of The Prisoner and the possible return of a Saturday night classic.
Your autumn schedule, launched last week... what are you most proud of?
"I'm really proud of Ross Kemp On Gangs; when you get a Bafta award-winning show it really makes a big difference. I'm really excited about Nothing But The Truth with Jerry Springer. That's got so much talkability, there's so much excitement about it. I think that Premier League Allstars is really going to captivate sports and entertainment fans. You've got all the premier league teams playing the celebrities, that's totally unique. Journeyman, I think, is going to be an amazing drama - the more I hear about it, the more I love it. And of course there's Prison Break. It's just amazing, awesome."
Prison Break premieres on September 24, a week after it comes back in the US. How important is to you to broadcast shows like that so soon after the US?
"Sky One's really pushing now to be close to US transmission because people want their telly now, they don't want to wait. That's why Lost is so big on Sky. People know they can get it within a few days of the US broadcast - and the same is going to be true of Prison Break. It's really important and we're going to do that for all of our big US shows now."
Are there any other big US shows you'd like to go for? Heroes, perhaps?
"Heroes is on the BBC and that's where it will stay now. Heroes is a really great show but I think Journeyman will surprise people because it's got time travel within our own lifetime. People are going to be captivated and engaged so I hope it's going to do great stuff [for us]."
Is it more important for you to pick up a show at its infancy from the screenings or let the terrestrials build up an audience for a show before you bid for it?
"No, I think you've got to do both really. Our policy is being the home of really great entertainment, so that means getting great US shows, going after them and making sure we've got them, but it's also about spotting the hits. So getting Are You Smarter...?, Nothing But The Truth, Journeyman - these are all great shows. We've got dramas, quiz shows, it's about spotting them and then having the conviction to go 'this is going to be huge' and then go for it.
The focus normally tends to be on Sky One, but what about Sky Three, going forward? It's on Freeview, for now...
"For now, yes. I think that for now, my focus is getting Sky One sorted out. I've got to get that sorted out first. My long-term goal is to give Sky Two and Sky Three their own individual personalities. We are putting together a strategy for what those identities should be, at the moment. We'll bring that to light over the next year or so."
In the TVYP session you said you quite liked the fact that you can only get Sky One through Sky...
"As someone who loves programmes, I want the biggest audiences for my shows. We're not on Virgin at the moment. That's for other people to comment about, not me. But it does give us a real point of difference now, so as you saw even in that session, people were talking about the shows that they love on Sky One. That's why I know that Sky was right to take the stance it did because we know how much people value our programmes and hope that the dispute will be resolved one day."
What happened with the planned remake of The Prisoner?
"The Prisoner is not happening. It's a very quintessentially British drama and there were too many creative differences trying to share it with an American partner. I didn't want to be responsible for taking something that is quintessentially British and adapting it in a way that I didn't feel was reflective of the way people would remember it and the way people would want it to be. So we called time on that."
Is it important for you to have a signature drama?
"Yeah, totally. We are in the middle of planning our drama strategy at the moment. We are very focussed on finding the key drama that's going to make a big difference. Drama touches people's lives, all ages, and we know that. We know it with Lost, 24, Prison Break and Journeyman. What I want now is a strong UK drama on Sky One. We are very focussed on finding the right dramas, both events and series."
And you've brought back Noel's Christmas Presents - thankyou! - is there anything else you'd like to bring back? Could we see a return of House Party, perhaps?
"Who knows? Noel Edmonds is a TV legend in my books and I absolutely adore working with him. I would never say never, but that's not the plan at the moment. The plan is that Are You Smarter..? is our focus with Noel - we've recorded 20 amazing shows - and we're developing lots of great ideas with him."
Final question - Virgin 1, what are your thoughts on that?
"I don't think it's going to be in my repertoire of viewing, let's say that."
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