Blake's 7 cult BBC classic 'to be remade for Xbox Live'

Blake's 7 cast
Image caption The show was originally broadcast in the 1970s, and was sold all around the world

Microsoft is to fund a remake of cult BBC sci-fi series Blake's 7 for broadcast on its Xbox Live service, according to reports.

The Financial Times said its sources had confirmed the technology giant would fund development, but had not commissioned a full series.

The show's producer refused to comment, describing the story as "rumours".

Microsoft is looking to position its Xbox Live service as a competitor to the likes of Netflix and Lovefilm.

'Entertainment hub'

However, the forthcoming launch of its new Xbox One console has hit a setback after the company announced it would be delayed in many countries.

Customers in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland will all have to wait until after Christmas if they want to own the machine.

Microsoft said that the console was still on course for a 2013 launch in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Once on sale, Microsoft will be looking to position the Xbox One as an "entertainment hub" for the living room, and not just for video gaming.

At the May launch of its new Xbox One console, the company announced it would be working with director Steven Spielberg to create a TV series based on the game Halo.

Declined to comment

With Blake's 7, Microsoft would be following in the footsteps of other on-demend competitors in commissioning its own exclusive material.

Netflix's House of Cards, also a remake of a BBC original, was well received by viewers and critics, earning an Emmy nomination for top drama series. Amazon-owned Lovefilm has also commissioned several exclusive series.

Welsh novelist Terry Nation's Blake's 7 is set about 700 years in the future, and follows the exploits of Roj Blake and his band of rebels as they take on totalitarian leaders in charge of Earth and several other planets.

Image caption House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey, was remade by Netflix as an exclusive title

It was broadcast by the BBC in the 1970s and 1980s, and had about 10 million viewers.

The show has since been reincarnated in various guises, including a series on BBC Radio 4.

In April 2000, the rights to the television show were bought by its current producer, Andrew Mark Sewell.

When contacted by the BBC, Mr Sewell would not be drawn on whether any deal with Microsoft had been made, adding: "When we have news to report, we'll let everyone know."

According to the FT, the show is to be redeveloped by London-based Motion Picture Capital. It and Microsoft also declined to comment.

However, film and TV news site Deadline Hollywood reported that "negotiations" were under way.

The news caused confusion at the show's distributor, Freemantle Media, who announced this year that a remake of the show would be broadcast on the SyFy channel.

When contacted by the BBC, a Freemantle spokesman said the company was "not aware of any deal" with Microsoft or any company other than SyFy, and that it was looking into Thursday's reports.

He added that the show has yet to do any casting.

Local content

Acquiring Blake's 7 as an exclusive title would likely be seen as a highly strategic move for Microsoft as it gears up to launch its Xbox One console.

However, the company's plans came under criticism this month when it emerged that many Xbox One functions would require an annual subscription of about £40.

Image caption Gamers will have to pay to take advantage of some features of the Xbox One

The controversy followed Microsoft's dramatic U-turn over its policy on charging for the use of pre-owned games.

Speaking on the news of the Xbox One's delayed launch in several key markets, the company said in a statement: "While we wish we could launch Xbox One simultaneously in these markets, there are many factors that determine the timing of specific market launches.

"This includes work to localise the Xbox One dash, incorporate additional voice and languages, and build partnerships to bring apps and meaningful local content to each country.

"We understand this will be disappointing news for our fans in the impacted countries, and we are doing everything we can to bring Xbox One to you as soon as possible next year."

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