Twofour Group’s Melanie Leach

Melanie Leach, the chief executive of Twofour Group, talks to TV Formats about some of the company’s most recent successes.

Twofour Group is a family of companies that span drama, comedy, factual, children’s and entertainment. Formats has certainly been a healthy business area, with hits such as This Time Next Year helping to pioneer the wave of “Time Travel TV” shows.

TV FORMATS: What’s guiding Twofour’s format strategy at present?
***Image***LEACH: Finding fresh ways into popular territories is Twofour’s top priority. We’ve had particular success with “Time Travel TV.” We now have formats using the time-travel device in makeover, property, business and, most recently, performance.

We’re also actively developing in the reality space, where we’re seeing renewed interest from U.K. broadcasters. Finding a new format on the scale of Big Brother is a primary focus across the group.

TV FORMATS: What types of formats have you seen selling best in the marketplace?
LEACH: The pressure on budgets has seen a growing demand for formats that can deliver big audiences for a competitive price.

Transformation and makeover are evergreen [areas] and buyers have responded very well to our Time Travel TV brand that now includes personal transformation series This Time Next Year, business series Give It a Year, property series The Home Game and brand-new entertainment series Change Your Tune.***Image*** We’re in a ‘right now’ culture and the instant reveals offered by these formats seem to have hit a sweet spot.

TV FORMATS: Tell us about the success of This Time Next Year. Where has it sold, and why is this an innovative proposition?
LEACH: This Time Next Year has sold in 14 countries since its launch in 2016. It’s a feel-good format that delivers a wide range of heartwarming and emotional makeovers in an innovative way. Historically, makeover formats have relied on a traditional narrative arc as they build to the reveal. This Time Next Year does away with that and instead delivers hit after hit of jaw-dropping transformations in an instant. A journey that’s taken an entire year for the contributors is revealed in just a few seconds for the audience.

TV FORMATS: A Night with My Ex is another innovative format. What does having a U.S. deal on that one mean for the format?
LEACH: We’re delighted to have secured a U.S. broadcaster so soon in the lifecycle of A Night with My Ex, which is also in production for a second season in the U.K. The series sits in a territory that we can all identify with. Everybody’s got an ex, which is one of the reasons we hope the format will have universal appeal. International sales are gathering pace, and the format is optioned in 11 territories.

There’s no question that a new format airing in the U.K. and U.S. gives international buyers the confidence to acquire the format. It also means we have two very different examples of how the show can be adapted. There are key differences between the U.S. and the U.K. version, which is helpful in demonstrating how best to localize a format for individual territories.

TV FORMATS: What new format highlights will you have for MIPCOM?
LEACH: We’ll be launching Change Your Tune, which is our latest time-travel format. Change Your Tune is an exciting new musical game show where it pays to be a bad singer. Terrible singers, all of whom have a heartfelt reason for wanting to be able to sing, perform in front of a live studio audience. As the curtain falls, the show’s trademark transformation begins. What’s been weeks of training for our contestants will be revealed to the viewers in an instant as the curtain rises and the singers perform again, this time singing to win the show and a cash prize. This is a brand-new, feel-good take on the singing genre that delivers the huge transformations usually played out over 12 weeks in single, self-contained episodes.

TV FORMATS: What sort of requests are you hearing from broadcasters about what they’re looking for in a format?
LEACH: We’re seeing worldwide demand for new formats in the makeover space alongside a strong desire to find the next innovation in food. Social experiments and relationship formats also remain a priority for a number of broadcasters, and there’s renewed interest in the next long-running reality competition.

TV FORMATS: Looking ahead, what are your plans for the format business at Twofour in the next 12 to 18 months?
LEACH: Twofour will continue to focus on developing flexible, innovative formats that deliver traditionally popular genres in new, surprising ways. This Time Next Year essentially breaks the rules of television, doing away with a tried-and-trusted story arc and challenging the traditional shooting model. We’re keen to capitalize on the lessons we’ve learned from that and keep finding new rules to break in casting, structure, form and execution.