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Case Study: The Lie Detective

Vasha Wallace, the executive VP of global acquisitions and development at FremantleMedia, talks to TV Formats about the relationship show The Lie Detective.

The Lie Detective sees current couples, wannabe partners and exes engage in heart-to-heart and candid conversations with their loved ones to find out whether they’ve always told the truth or whether their relationship has been based on lies. Couples are put in the hot seat by a human lie detector, in the ultimate test of their honesty.

The genesis of the show was rooted in the idea that around 80 percent of people lie to their partners, explains Vasha Wallace, the executive VP of global acquisitions and development at FremantleMedia, which holds the global rights (excluding the U.S.) for the format. “The producers at True North came up with the idea when they realized through research that the use of polygraph tests was becoming more prevalent in certain territories—combining it with a relationship show really was a eureka moment. It created something very authentic and yet ***Image***totally honest and emotional for both those taking part as well as the viewers at home.

The Lie Detective feels really fresh and relevant—when it was first pitched to me, I’d never seen a show like this on television,” she continues. “It is loud, young, promotable; it stands out in television schedules. Yet importantly, it is all with a heart, resolutions and happy endings.”

The show is described as “the most honest conversation you’ll ever have,” says Wallace. “The format has couples’ stories interwoven throughout each episode…. The couples ask each other questions, all mediated by the expert, who is not afraid to call them out if they spot a lie. The questions are cleverly shaped, from lighthearted to serious: from, Am I better looking than you?, to, Are you attracted to my best friend? Everyone has questions, and everyone wants answers.”

The series first launched on Channel 4 in the U.K. From there, FremantleMedia quickly sold it into Belgium, where it performed well on Vier. It has also launched in Norway on TV2. In the Netherlands, RTL 5 has a version. Deals have also been done in Greece and Latvia, among other markets.

The adaptations have stuck close to the original format, according to Wallace. However, what has changed in some territories is the expert. “In the U.K., Dan Ribacoff did both the polygraphing as well as the on-screen mediating,” explains Wallace. “Whereas in Norway, we had an on-screen mediator and a separate polygrapher. In the Netherlands, we used behavioral specialist Dan Ribacoff again, and to assist with production timescales, he brought in a member of his team to do the polygraphing. In Belgium, we used a host who utilized layered voice analysis to test the participants. In Latvia, we also had a polygrapher and an on-screen host mediator who is a relationship expert.”

At its heart, The Lie Detective is a relationship show. “It’s about people looking for love,” Wallace says. “The show is about the truth and everyone wants the truth, which makes it immediately interesting and promotable for broadcasters around the world.”

About Kristin Brzoznowski

Kristin Brzoznowski is the executive editor of World Screen. She can be reached at


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