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'The Walking Dead' was turned down by NBC: "It was an early draft"

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Fox chairman of entertainment Kevin Reilly has claimed that The Walking Dead would only work on cable.

Reilly - who originally purchased a pilot script for the zombie drama from Frank Darabont while working at NBC - told Deadline that the series "would have probably been a little less intense and a little less interesting to the audience" if it had aired on a broadcast network.

The Walking Dead - Season 3, Episode 7: Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) - (Background) Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson)

© Blake Tyers/AMC



"When you put on a thriller you have to compete at that level… We must match the intensity, otherwise we'll pale in comparison," he suggested.

Speaking at this year's TCA press tour, Reilly elaborated: "The Walking Dead is an extraordinary thing. I bought the script at NBC from Frank Darabont. I developed it. I loved it.

"[But] I was absolutely at the bottom of the ratings at NBC, and I just was like, 'Really, Frank? A zombie thing?' - I thought it was good, but it was an early draft. And then, when I left and I heard it went over to AMC, there was just a lot of serendipity involved."

The network boss added that Fox itself has "never left the genre business", despite "some bad false starts and broken... hearts" with ratings-challenged shows such as Fringe.

The Walking Dead S03E06: 'Hounded'

© AMC



"It was great to finally see [a series] through and finish it in a great way for the fans and to not leave them hanging," he admitted. "But, we've never left that business, and we always look for it. We set the standard, many years ago, with The X-Files."

The Walking Dead - which was recently renewed for a fourth season - returns to AMC on February 10. The series airs on FX UK - to be rebranded Fox from January 11 - in the UK.

> Walking Dead exec: 'Series almost aired on NBC, HBO'

Watch a promo for the return of The Walking Dead below:

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