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MIPCOM Spotlight: Fremantle


Fremantle’s wide portfolio of new content at MIPCOM includes the dramas Beecham House and Taken Down, the format The Greatest Dancer and the adventure series Expedition with Steve Backshall.

Tom Bateman (Vanity Fair) leads the cast of Beecham House, a scripted highlight on offer from Fremantle. The period drama is slated for broadcast on ITV in the U.K. “It’s being filmed in some of the most beautiful locations across India and includes a strong storyline and a stellar cast of international actors,” says Jens Richter, the company’s CEO, International.

On the factual side is Expedition with Steve Backshall, in which the famed adventurer explores dark corners of the world. “Steve Backshall has a huge global following who have grown up watching him and his adventures,” says Richter. “Expedition is Steve doing what he does best.”

“Commissioned by BBC, UKTV and Fremantle, this groundbreaking collaboration for an ambitious, prime-time adventure series is filled with world firsts,” adds Angela Neillis, Fremantle’s director of non-scripted acquisitions, International. “These include the first descent of a white-water river in the Himalayas, trekking through an unexplored jungle in South America and climbing mountains in the deserts of the Middle East.”

Also being showcased is America’s Got Talent: The Champions, a spin-off of the hit variety show that is being judged and executive produced by Simon Cowell.

“With an outstanding mix of high-end scripted and distinctive non-scripted shows, from some of the best on- and off-camera talent, we have something for everyone,” says Richter.

The drama lineup also includes the six-part series Taken Down, in which the violent death of a young Nigerian migrant is investigated. Rebecca Dundon, Fremantle’s director of scripted acquisitions, International, describes it as “a gripping crime drama—full of unexpected twists and turns—that is guaranteed to keep viewers at the edges of their seats.” Then there is the second installment of American Gods, a book-based fantasy series that airs on Starz in the U.S. and streams on Amazon Prime Video in other territories. “Following the success of American Gods season one, we are very excited to be launching season two this market,” says Dundon. “It is still very cinematic [with] its signature stunning visuals.”

Dundon adds, “We have continued to work with some of the very best creative talent in the industry this year to bring these enormously impactful and captivating dramas to the world.”

The factual highlights, in addition to Expedition, include Manson: The Lost Tapes, featuring access to more than 100 hours of previously unseen footage of the infamous cult. “The Lost Tapes provides exclusive, new and unique insight into how Charles Manson assembled a group of young followers in a commune that would go on to commit the most infamous series of murders in U.S. history, which came to be seen across the world as the dark side of the hippie movement,” says Neillis. There is also In Search Of, in which host Zachary Quinto examines unexplained phenomena from around the globe. “From the mythical to the scientific, each episode will follow Quinto as he investigates a different subject—such as alien encounters, mysterious creatures, UFO sightings, time travel and artificial intelligence—and searches for the truth to some of the world’s greatest mysteries,” adds Neillis.

Commissioned by BBC One in the U.K., The Greatest Dancer is a brand-new entertainment format in the Fremantle catalog. “The Greatest Dancer will feature a host of talent from every genre of dance as contestants give the performances of their lives in the search for the country’s best dancer,” says Rob Clark, the company’s director of global entertainment. “From ballet to jazz, hip-hop to Bollywood, this show is open to everyone.”

Clark adds, “The Greatest Dancer will do for dance what Got Talent has done for variety, and we can’t wait to show our partners in Cannes.”

In Match Fit, a group of sporting legends must try to get back into shape. The show “will shed light on how they’ve let themselves go and why it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle as you approach middle age,” says Clark. There is also The Big Race, in which four stock car racing families team up with celebrities.

For its Asia-Pacific clients, Fremantle is showcasing a mix of scripted and formats. Ganesh Rajaram, Fremantle’s general manager and executive VP of sales for Asia, International, highlights Beecham House, which he says has “a script and characters that buyers and their audiences will love. This will be one of the biggest epic British dramas next year.”

Another highlight for the Asia Pacific is America’s Got Talent: The Champions, which brings together former contestants from previous seasons of the popular show. “It’s bound to be a global hit that will excite the region and even get buyers cheering,” says Rajaram.

A major highlight for the company’s MEA clients is The Greatest Dancer. “Considering the resounding success of shiny-floor prime-time shows across the Middle East and Africa, the resurgence of the dance genre and the fact that Syco/Fremantle co-productions have all been global hits, The Greatest Dancer will resonate with buyers across the region,” says Anahita Kheder, Fremantle’s senior VP of distribution for the Middle East, Africa and Southeastern Europe, International. “It is a format that is full of warmth, heart and great surprise challenges.” Also being highlighted for the MEA region are My Brilliant Friend, a drama based on the best-selling book of the same name, and The Yard, which explores female friendships in prison.

“Some promising developments in the media sector in the Middle East mean we can look to further grow our commissioning success,” Kheder says.

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