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TV Column
Posted at 01:12 PM ET, 04/19/2012

WETA unveils UK-centric channel and Martha Stewart cooking show


Martha Stewart (Hallmark)

From syndication to Hallmark Channel and now to PBS, Martha Stewart continues her march across the TV landscape, in search of a sustainable audience.

Martha’s new weekly series, “Martha Stewart’s Cooking School,” will debut on PBS this fall. Stewart’s Omnimedia company is producing the show with the Washington station WETA, which calls it a “teaching series.”

Back in January, Hallmark let it be known that it was pulling the daily “The Martha Stewart Show” this summer. The home-entertainment maven has struggled at the cable network for a couple of years, having migrating there after a spell in the rough-and-tumble world of daytime syndication.

The cooking show comes just in the nick of time: WETA also announced Thursday that come June, it will shuttering its lifestyle channel WETA How-To — which had included cooking shows, among other programming. Starting this summer, the channel will become WETA UK and, as the name suggests, it will traffic exclusively in programming from UK producers, including BBC classics, 24/7.

“MI-5,” “Hustle,” “Waking the Dead,” “Primeval” and “New Tricks” — some of which air in Britain — will share the WETA UK lineup.

Love all those old British comedies and dramas? Shows like “All Creatures Great and Small,” ““Ballykissangel,” vintage “Doctor Who,” “Waiting for God,” “Inspector Morse,” “Monarch of the Glen,” “Fawlty Towers,” “Prime Suspect,” “Keeping Up Appearances,” “Robin Hood,” “To the Manor Born,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “Are you Being Served?” — and “Masterpiece” productions from back when it was called “Masterpiece Theatre.” We could go on and on.

Anyway, if you do, you’re in luck — they’re on the menu, too.

Plus, there will be episodes of the original BBC “Antiques Roadshow,” which not only spawned the U.S. version of same name, but also gave birth to all those little “Pawn Stars” and “American Pickers” that have thrived and proliferated across our great cable universe.

Saturday nights on WETA UK will be all about movies – feature film-length contemporary drama.

WETA UK joins the WETA Television family that also includes the mothership station and WETA TV26, WETA HD, and WETA Kids.

Getting back to Martha Stewart: In each 30-minute episode of her “Cooking School,” she will demonstrate classic cooking techniques and basics — the building blocks of recipes everyone should know, from roasting to poaching, from braising to blanching.

Martha and WETA are old friends, having previously produced the station’s “Everyday Food,” minus Martha as host.

On this new show, however, you’ll have Martha right by your side, showing you how to make the perfect pot roast, how to make stocks — not sell them — and why they’re so essential to making sauces and delicious soups.

Martha weighed in on the news Thursday afternoon: “Easy access to PBS as opposed to Hallmark will be wonderful,” she tweeted.

By  |  01:12 PM ET, 04/19/2012

 
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