news 12 months ago

International TV Newswire: MipDrama Scales Up; ZDF Sells to PCCW; HBO’s ‘Patria’; ‘X Factor,’ ’Bake Off’ Renewed

Variety — John Hopewell


European drama serie production continues to scale up, is driving ever more into comedy, while Nordic Noir’s is still going international, if the selection of 10 productions at this year’s MipDrama Buyers’ Summit is anything to go by. Meanwhile, established players are driving ever more into drama series production.

Produced by Mammoth Screen, BBC One’s “World on Fire,” an epic drama about ordinary people in early WWII starring Sean Bean and Helen Hunt, weighs in as the Summit’s biggest series.

Also to be pitched via 15 minutes of extracts, however, is Norwegian broadcaster NRK’s “Atlantic Crossing,” charting the relationship between Norway’s Crown Princess Märtha (Sofia Helin, “The Bridge”) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (Kyle Maclachan).

Nordic Noir continues its global roll-out with Kiwi Noir – crime thriller “The Gulf,” chronicling a woman cop’s moral disintegration, another MipDrama entry  – and Ukrainian Noir: Missing child crime drama-thriller “Hide and Seek.”

Three series have large comedic elements: Black crime farce “Dangerous Moms,” where four mothers have to dispose of a corpse: “Made in Italy,” a dramedy about the 1970s’ origins of Italy’s fashion industry; and Arte’s “The Middleman,” described by MipTV as a dramedy fantasy.

Meanwhile, broadcasters, studios and sales companies are piling into production. A primetime cop thriller, set over 1977-82 at the dawn of Spain’s drug-trade boom, “Costa del Sol Brigade” marks an early direct involvement in primetime drama by Warner Bros. in Spain. Mediaset España has two Summit entries: “Moms” and “Brigade,” selling the former via new sales force Mediterraneo; Beta Film not only sells but produces “Atlantic Crossing.”

Taking place Sunday April 7, the 4th MipDrama Buyers’ Summit, is rounded up by “Shadow Lines,” an espionage thriller  set in 1950s’ Helsinki produced by Zodiac Finland for Finnish streamer Elisa Viihde, and drama “I Am,” produced by Me + You Productions for Channel 4 and sold by Sky Vision.


Ever more adventurous as a producer and in the titles it sells – it co-produces MipDrama entry “The Gulf,” sells another title, the Ukraine’s “Hide and Seek” – German public broadcaster ZDF is also discovering new markets, having signed its first drama deal with Hong Kong’sPCCW. The sales package includes crime series “Hamburg Homicide,” hit Swedish cop series “Before We Die,” and two of its best-selling titles, mini-series “Ku’damm 56” and sequel “Ku’damm 59,” which won lead Sonja Gerhardt an Intl. Emmy nomination. The shows will air on PCCW’s English-language free television channel ViuTVsix in Hong Kong. If talent can come from anywhere these days, quality programming can sell most anywhere as well.


One of Spain’s most-awaited new drama series,  HBO Europe’s adaptation of Fernando Aramburu’s same-titled bestselling novel by showrunner Aitor Gabilondo (“The Prince”) has closed its key cast, adding, for example, best breakthrough actor Goya winner Eneko Sagardoy. It goes into production next week shooting in the Basque Country. Felix Viscarret (“Four Seasons in Havana”) and Oscar Pedraza (“Viradeira”), replacing Pablo Trapero, direct. “Patria” will be aired by all HBO Europe operations, and released on HBO Latin America and HBO in the U.S., as HBO leverages it direct distribution reach on multiple overseas original series.


Mix Simon Cowell, Italy’s long tradition of variety entertainment and Sky Italia, and you might have some hits on your hand. So it has proved. On Friday, Fremantle announced that Sky Italia has re-upped with Fremantle Italy and Syco Entertainment for a new four-year deal extension which gives its four more new seasons of “The X Factor” and two more of “Italia’s Got Talent.” “The X Factor” bowed on Sky Italia in 2011, “Italia’s Got Talent” from 2015.  Italy has been the only pay TV in the world to air “The X Factor” on pay TV but results have been exceptional. 2018’s grand final averaged 2.8 million viewers and a 13% share. As streamers plunge ever more into unscripted, Sky Italia certainly suggests that pay TV release can sometimes pay off.


Channel 4 has renewed its deal with Love Productions on “The Great British Bake Off,” confirming another two seasons on the U.K. broadcaster, which has signed up for the first time “Junior Bake Off.” “The Great British Bake Off” bowed on Channel 4 in 2017, its eighth series proving the biggest Channel 4 series in over six years, with a 9.0 million viewership and 33.8% share, as well as the biggest series for young audiences on any channel that year (2.6 million/54.5% per episode). One of the best ways to younger viewers looks to be through their stomachs.


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