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Channel 4’s ‘The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds’ Scores Japanese Remake (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety — Stewart Clarke

“The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds,” one of the most popular factual shows on Britain’s Channel 4 in recent years, has gotten a Japanese remake. NHK will air a local version of the show, which has cameras follow a group of small children and how they interact with one another and their surroundings.

The format has fared well internationally, with local versions in Australia, France, Germany, Spain, and the U.S., among others. The NHK version will be the first remake in Asia, and will air in prime time Saturday.

The show was created by U.K. banner RDF Television and is distributed by the sales arm of its parent company Banijay Group, which did the NHK deal. NHK Enterprises produces the local show. Andrew Sime, VP of formats at Banijay Rights, told Variety that NHK viewers have taken to the original British version after the broadcaster bought the show, but the local version required fine-tuning for Japanese audience.

“It has a strong following, and we’ve been talking about how to make a local version because the look and feel – a formatted documentary – is very European,” Sime said. “What they have come up with is a version with a host, an inset box where you can see the reactions of people in the audience to what’s happening, and there will be graphics overlaid – it will be recognizably Japanese entertainment television.”

“The original ‘The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds’ has won many fans in Japan, and this response means we have decided to create a local version,” said Takako Ishikawa, a senior producer at NHK. “We are delighted and thrilled to produce the program, which captures children’s emotions and relationships with rich and colorful moments in a unique approach.”

In the U.K., “The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds” has run to six seasons and spawned spinoffs including “The Secret Life of Brothers and Sisters,” and “The Secret Life of 5 and 6 Year Olds.”

The NHK deal was brokered by Samia Moktar, sales manager at Banijay Rights. The distributor’s CEO, Tim Mutimer, said: “This is an exceptional format – it’s truly funny and extremely uplifting, yet at the same time a real eye-opener on the complex development of young children and how they interact with each other.”

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