New TV show from Baby Reindeer's Richard Gadd gets an official title, but you won't be able to watch it on Netflix

A promotional image for Netflix's Baby Reindeer, which shows Ricard Gadd sitting on the back seat of a bus
Richard Gadd (pictured) is making a new six-part series called Lions. (Image credit: Netflix)

Richard Gadd, the brainchild behind Baby Reindeer, Netflix's biggest hit of 2024 so far, is making a new TV series – but it won't be released on the streaming giant.

In a joint HBO-BBC press release, the two entertainment behemoths confirmed that Gadd's next project, titled Lions, will debut on their respective cable and terrestrial TV channels, plus streaming platform BBC iPlayer, when it's ready for release. Gadd will pen the scripts for the six-part series and be part of its sizeable executive-producing team.

So, what will Lions be about? Here's the TV drama's official story brief: "When Niall's estranged 'brother' Ruben shows up at his wedding, it leads to an explosion of violence that catapults us back through their lives. 

"Spanning almost forty years from the 1980s to the present day, this ambitious series will cover the highs and lows of the brothers' relationship, from them meeting as teenagers to their falling out as adults – with all the good, bad, terrible, funny, angry, and challenging moments along the way. It will capture the wild energy of a changing city – a changing world, even – and try to get to the bottom of the difficult question... What does it mean to be a man?"

In a statement accompanying the reveal, Gadd said: "Ordering a HBO boxset of The Sopranos, The Wire, or Oz and watching it from start to finish were some of the happiest moments of my childhood. Since then, it has always been a dream of mine to work with HBO and be part of their iconic roster of shows. I am so grateful to Francesca Orsi, Kara Buckley, and Clint LaVigne for taking this chance on the show, and on Ruben and Niall, too, who – despite growing up in a dead-end Scottish town – would be absolutely pinching themselves at this! I cannot wait to get started."

Kara Buckley, HBO's Senior Vice-President for Drama Programming, also said: "We are tremendously excited to partner with the BBC and Richard Gadd, whose remarkable talent continues to make waves across the globe. With this new, gripping and evocative series, we are proud to welcome Richard to the HBO family."

"We are delighted that HBO are joining us to bring Richard Gadd’s exquisite Lions scripts to the screen," the BBC's Director of Drama Lindsay Salt added. "This is bold, brilliant, one-of-a-kind storytelling and we can’t wait for viewers to see it."

A blow for Netflix, or a bullet dodged?

Richard Gadd's Donny Dunn looks spooked as he sits down in Baby Reindeer

Did Netflix bid for Ricard Gadd's new TV project? We'll probably never know. (Image credit: Ed Miller/Netflix)

Mild spoilers follow for Baby Reindeer.

On the surface, it seems that Netflix has missed a trick with Gadd's latest TV project. Baby Reindeer has been a titanic success for the world's best streaming service, with the black comedy-drama miniseries accumulating 224.2 million hours streamed in its first 28 days on the platform. Throw in its near-perfect 98% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes – it also holds an 80% audience score on the same website – and its dominance of the TV show town throughout May, and it's more than earned its title as 2024's biggest cultural phenomenon.

So, why didn't Netflix try to continue its existing relationship with Gadd and bid to acquire Lions? Well, we can't say with any certainty that it didn't. There's every chance that Netflix attempted to usurp HBO and the BBC in the battle to secure the exclusive rights to beam Lions into homes worldwide. It's also possible that, given Baby Reindeer's unprecedented success, the two studios not only moved quickly to work with one of the industry's biggest current names, but also united to gazump Netflix's offer. This isn't the first time that HBO and the BBC have worked together, either; the two companies joined forces to bring Doctor Who (before Disney Plus agreed a different deal with the BBC ahead of Ncuti Gatwa's debut as the titular character, anyway) and His Dark Materials to their respective audiences. The pair, then, have previous form for teaming up to beat their competitors to projects.

A press image of the two main characters in Netflix's Baby Reindeer series in a British pub

Netflix is facing a lawsuit from the alleged real-life inspiration for Baby Reindeer's Martha (right). (Image credit: Netflix)

It's also plausible, though, that Netflix simply shied away from Lions over the bad publicity it's garnered post-Baby Reindeer's release. Yes, one of this year's best Netflix shows was another huge win for the streamer, but its explosion in popularity came at a cost – a potentially expensive, lawsuit-based one at that.

For the uninitiated: Baby Reindeer's story is based on real-life events, which allegedly saw Gadd stalked by a woman for years. Understandably for legal and privacy reasons, the identity of said individual wasn't disclosed as part of the TV series – indeed, Jessica Gunning, who portrays the unnamed woman, goes by a different name (Martha Scott) in Baby Reindeer.

Unfortunately for the woman Martha is inspired by, and despite Gadd's best efforts to end the speculation regarding her real name, internet sleuths quickly determined her identity. Nearly one month after Baby Reindeer's April 11 release, controversial UK journalist Piers Morgan interviewed a woman on his talk show Piers Morgan Uncensored who not only claimed to be the real-life inspiration for Martha, but also that she was suing Netflix for $170 million for, per the BBC, breach of privacy, defamation, and negligence.

Now, I'm not suggesting that Netflix opted not to bid for Lions based on the Baby Reindeer fallout, but I can't help feeling that HBO and the BBC's acquisition, not Netflix's, of the rights to Gadd's new show is a bit coincidental. Regardless, we'll probably never know for sure, meaning the question of whether this is a blow for Netflix, or a bullet dodged, remains answered.

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Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

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