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ABC Taps Brit Duo for ‘Wanna Bet?’

Mar 19, 2007  •  Post A Comment

ABC has signed U.K. comedy duo Ant & Dec to host the gambling-variety show pilot “Wanna Bet?” from producer Phil Gurin.

Ant & Dec, short for Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, are popular British comedians with a lengthy track record of both adult and children’s comedy programming.

The ABC pilot, which Mr. Gurin (“Miss USA,” “Lingo,” “Weakest Link”) adapted from long-running German show “Wetten dass…?,” features contestants betting they can complete an outrageous stunt.

The original German version combines sketch comedy, music and variety acts. Mr. Gurin added a gambling element to the American version.

The network declined to comment.

The project is among a growing roster of unscripted projects ABC has in the pipeline.

The network plans to try out a few reality series on Wednesdays, a night that has undergone some transformations on ABC this season. In the fall ABC’s Wednesday night focus was to find a drama companion for “Lost.” After shifting “Lost” to 10 p.m. in February, ABC tried to establish a two-hour comedy block.

Wish-fulfillment reality series “The Great American Dream Vote” is slated to premiere Wednesday, March 28, with a preview slated for Tuesday, March 27. Celebrity impersonator series “The Next Best Thing: Who Is the Greatest Celebrity Impersonator?” will join ABC’s Wednesday night lineup starting May 30. Simon Cowell’s “American Inventor” will return to ABC the following Wednesday, June 6.

Game show “National Bingo Night” premieres as a Friday show starting May 18.

The addition of the Ant & Dec-led “Wanna Bet?” comes on the heels of a scripted success for the network — last week’s premiere of the new Thursday night drama “October Road.”

“Road” earned a 5.8 rating among adults 18 to 49, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research figures. The series, about an author who returns to his hometown after a decade away, won the 10 p.m. hour and exhibited the best-ever retention of the “Grey’s Anatomy” audience.

If the performance holds up in subsequent weeks, it will give ABC the final piece in its Thursday night block. Previous 10 p.m. slot-holder “Men in Trees” has held a fair 3.5 average, but had been gaining ground in recent weeks. The last original episode of “Trees” hit a series high of 4.2.

Chris Pursell contributed to this report.