Reports of Ripper Street's demise may be premature. The Victorian crime drama's producer is understood to be in talks with potential backers including video-on-demand company LoveFilm, after the BBC confirmed earlier this month that it would not fund a third series.
The deal said to be in the offing would see Amazon-owned LoveFilm funding most of Ripper Street's budget, in return for premiering the third series online in the UK, with an option to commission a fourth. BBC1 would air the show shortly after its LoveFilm premiere.
No deal has been signed, it is understood, but if Ripper Street producer Tiger Aspect can successfully conclude negotiations it would mark a significant moment in the funding of UK TV drama.
It would be the first time a VOD company has stepped in to become the majority-funder of an already established UK TV drama, with the BBC effectively acquiring the show as a pre-sale. In the US VOD company Netflix has funded the return of Arrested Development.
A Tiger Aspect spokesman said, "The creative team have great vision and high ambition for future series of Ripper Street. It would of course be marvellous to find a route to make these plans reality."
A BBC spokeswoman said: "The BBC is looking at partnerships that could enable Ripper Street to return but at better value to licence fee payers."
The BBC said earlier this month that the second series of Ripper Street, which stars Matthew MacFadyen and Jerome Flynn, "didn't bring the audience we hoped and in order to make room for creative renewal and new ideas it won't be returning".
However, devoted fans of the show have launched an online campaign to keep it alive, with a Change.org petition so far attracting nearly 14,000 signatures.
Four years ago Primeval producer Impossible Pictures put together a deal for the fantasy drama to continue, with pay-TV broadcaster UKTV taking over first UK transmission rights from ITV. In that instance BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm, took over from ITV as the biggest funder of the show, in return for international rights.
I hope this works out! I'm almost done catching up on season 2 and I don't want it to end.