Alliance Atlantis announces fall line-up

And it's a potpourri of programming with some surprise star turns.

Alliance Atlantis unveiled fall sked highlights for its 13 specialty nets yesterday – while simultaneously boasting about record audiences for the channels during the past winter and spring season.

The company snagged four of the top 10 spots for specialty nets in the adults 25-54 demo – with HGTV at #4, History at #5, Showcase at #7 and the Food Network at #10 – and five of the top 10 spots for digital specialties – with Showcase Action at #2, National Geographic at #3, Showcase Diva at #5 and Discovery Health Channel jointly at #9.

Notable new premieres for the Alliance Atlantis fall skeds, exclusive to Canada, include TNT’s Saving Grace and The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle on Showcase; doc-series Lost Worlds on History; and Jamie Oliver’s Chef on Food. Original homegrown series will include Project Runway Canada and Home Heist on HGTV.

Here’s a breakdown channel by channel:

HGTV: The home and garden net’s fall sked will focus on new design, décor, real estate and renovation programs and specials – with 10 new original and international series and 21 returning shows, such as Holmes on Homes (Oct. 4); design inc. (Oct. 2); Designer Guys (Oct. 2); and Disaster DIY (Oct. 4).

A new ‘first-timers’ programming block will be home to the new series Marriage Under Construction (Oct. 1), along with new seasons of Property Virgins and Home to Stay. The net’s big show is the much-hyped 26-part original series Home Heist, which puts Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan (How Not To Decorate) to work spreading their gospel of ‘decorative beautification’ in Canada. It premieres in the Tuesday 9 pm ET/10 pm PT time slot on October 2.

Showcase: The net’s 10 pm time slot will serve up new programs such as The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle (Sept. 2), starring Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous); and Saving Grace, the new drama in which movie star Holly Hunter makes her series debut as a cynical police detective, which is set for Mondays starting August 27.

Other returning shows include Rescue Me with Denis Leary (Aug. 28, with streaming eps at; Weeds, starring Mary-Louise Parker (Oct. 10); The L Word with Jennifer Beals (Aug. 30); and the irreverent comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia with Danny DeVito (Nov. 4).

Slice: The guilty pleasures for the women net’s first official fall sked include 10 new and returning shows. The big newbies include The List, which puts host Liza Fromer to the task of helping people accomplish their dreams – from getting on stage with a rock band to kissing a stranger in Paris. The net’s also got big hopes for Project Runway Canada with big-time style icon Iman, who will rule over 12 designers competing to win $100,000, their own fashion line and a feature spread in a fashion mag. Runway premieres Monday, October 8 in the 10 pm ET/PT time slot.

Other shows new to Slice include The Biggest Loser Australia, Average Joe Hawaii and Trading Spouses. Returning shows include At The End of My Leash, Last 10 Pounds Bootcamp, Til Debt Do Us Part and Wedding SOS.

History Television: The fall sked includes new documentary series including Trapped (Sept. 8), a program that revisits some of the greatest disasters in history; Go Deep (Sept. 11), an exploration into ocean depths; and Extreme Rescue (Oct. 20), which offers insight into the high-risk rescues that have made headlines all over the world.

HBO series Deadwood (Sept. 12) returns for a third season. The net’s biggest initiative is the 13-part series Lost Worlds, which re-creates past civilizations and ancient sites using CGI – led by a team of field investigators and engineering experts who study feats of culture and engineering in lost civilizations. The series premieres Monday, October 1, in the 8 pm ET/PT time slot.

Food Network: Chef (premiering Oct. 21) highlights Jamie Oliver’s efforts to oversee the graduation of disadvantaged youngsters from his restaurant, Fifteen. Three new original series will launch in the first week of October: The Main (Oct. 1), hosted by Anthony Sedlak (winner of Food Network’s Superstar Chef Challenge); Fink (Oct. 2), a doc series focusing on visionary culinary arts teacher Paul Finkelstein; and Chef School (Oct. 2), which looks into one of Canada’s most prestigious culinary schools.

National Geographic: New shows and specials include Dino Autopsy, an investigation of the most intact dinosaur mummy in the world; Situation Critical (Sept. 15), a program that dissects major incidents and tells compelling tales of human survival; Incredible Human Machine, an exploration of the miraculous everyday workings of the human body; My Brilliant Brain, which travels into the inner recesses of the mind; and Huge Moves, which documents the planning and execution of giant moving projects. Then there’s Through Hell and High Water, a six-part doc that follows the journey of celebrity rowers James Cracknell and Ben Fogle in the Atlantic Rowing Race.

Showcase Action: Among the net’s new shows is the Canadian premiere of Tapout, a reality series that follows Tapout clothing founders Mask, Punkass and SkysKrape as they search for promising martial arts fighters to develop and sponsor. It’s slotted on Monday at 7 pm ET beginning August 20. Then there’s the Gemini award-winning Stuntdawgs (Wednesdays at 7 pm ET beginning Aug. 22) – a wild ride into the world of movie stunt performers; and Tourgasm (Thursdays at 7 pm ET beginning August 23), in which comedian Dane Cook and three fellow comics perform stand-up on a tour across the US.

Showcase Diva: Lined up are Melrose Place (Monday to Friday, Sunday at 7 pm ET beginning Sept. 24) and ‘classic’ episodes of ER and Nip/Tuck.

IFC: Cock’d Gunns (Nov.) is a rockumentary series about the worst band ever; outrageous comic Andrew Dice Clay tries to revive his career in Dice Undisputed (Saturdays at 8:30 pm ET beginning Sept. 8); and The Festival (Tuesdays at 8 pm ET beginning Sept. 4) is an ensemble comedy about a documentarian hired to follow a young director trying for a distribution deal at his first film festival.

Discovery Health: The Truth About Food will delve into topics like the effects of food on such factors as mood and fertility; National Body Challenge explores the highs and lows of losing weight; and Eataholics looks at people struggling with extreme eating habits. As well, in its North American premiere, Spa Of Embarrassing Illnesses (beginning Thursday, Sept. 6) will focus on people suffering embarrassing and socially stigmatized medical conditions.

BBC Canada: Those outspoken British fashion mavens from What Not To Wear will be back with Trinny & Susannah Undress; a professional antique dealer will try to turn amateurs into antique experts in Dealing with Dickinson (debuting Sept. 4); and a family will try to help the environment with rugged self-sufficiency in It’s Not Easy Being Green (Sept. 6).

Returning drama and comedy series include Escape to the Country (Sept. 8); Absolutely Fabulous (premiere TBA); Everything Must Go (Oct. 12); Footballers Wives (Oct. 9); and Inspector Lynley (Dec. 12). Perfect Housewife (Saturdays at 1:00 pm ET beginning Sept. 8) is a light-hearted eight-parter in which people of both genders submit to an intensive housewifery course.

BBC Kids: Returning faves include My Hero (Sept. 3), The Raven (Nov. 5) and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. New shows include an interactive dance program for kids, Boogie Beebies (Sept. 3); Lockie Leonard (Sept. 3), which is about a teenager who moves to a remote town; and Our Hero (Mondays at 7:30 pm ET beginning Sept. 3), about the young publisher of a lively ‘zine.

Fine Living: Now available in over 1.3 million Canadian homes, the net will kick off its fall schedule with a weekend programming block (10 am-2 pm ET Saturdays and Sundays beginning Oct. 6) designed to help viewers save time and money by providing insider tips from experts and industry professionals. ‘Smart Shopping Weekend’ includes The Shopping Detective, What’s Your Time Worth? and What You Get For The Money: Vacations.