Hot BBC Showcase material: costume dramas

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LONDON -- Period drama continued to prove a top international seller for the BBC this year, with buyers flocking to such lavish costume adaptations as "Cranford," "Oliver Twist" and "Sense and Sensibility" at Showcase, the BBC's annual three-day sales program that wrapped Wednesday.

The critically acclaimed "Cranford," a BBC/WGBH co-production based on Elizabeth Gaskell's novels about the social disruption to village life created by the arrival of the railways, has sold to seven markets, including the U.S., Iceland and Cyprus. The lavish series, which aired in the U.K. in 2007, features such British acting talent as Judi Dench, Francesca Annis, Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton, Eileen Atkins and Michael Gambon.

Another big hit at this year's sales market was the BBC Christmas adaptation of "Oliver Twist," which sold to 11 international broadcasters. Meanwhile, acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davies' adaptation of "Sense and Sensibility" sold to 11 markets, including Japan, Sweden, Poland, Canada and Korea, and Jane Austen biopic "Miss Austen Regrets" also enjoyed solid sales.

BBC Worldwide director of investment Matt Forde said the costume genre's continuing appeal lay in new adaptations and new material.

"The popularity of period drama on the international market this year shows that Britain is still viewed as one of the best producers of quality adaptations," he said.

"Familiar titles like Dickens' 'Oliver Twist' can be successfully adapted so that they appeal to a contemporary audience and still remain fresh. More unrecognizable literature such as 'Cranford' proved that there is a market for new, innovative period drama," he added.
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