'Luther' to Get Russian Remake as BBC Worldwide Gears up for Program Showcase

A record number of buyers, including first-timers DirecTV and Google Play, proves that shows from the BBC and British indies continues to draw global interest.
BBC America
Idris Elba in "Luther"

LONDON – A week before the Academy Awards, BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the British public broadcaster and the largest seller of TV content outside of the U.S., is kicking off its own big annual event on Sunday.

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The 38th annual BBC Worldwide Showcase, the BBC's equivalent of the L.A. Screenings, will for the third year in a row take place in Liverpool, England, a port city a couple of hours by train from London that is best known as the home of the Beatles.

The event, known as the largest TV content sales event in the world that is organized by a single company, this year registered a record 725 attendees who represent buyers from around the world. Among them are delegates from first-time attendees such as DirecTV and Google Play who will be able to screen shows and attend discussion panels and social events.

On sale are such hit shows and formats as Sherlock, The Musketeers, Doctor Who, Top Gear, Call the Midwife and Strictly Come Dancing/Dancing With the Stars. Other new shows to get their sales launch at the event include drama The Game along with season 2 of Orphan Black. BBC Worldwide  also reps international rights for shows from indie producers that air on other major U.K. networks, such as ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and the networks operated by pay TV giant BSkyB.

Talk show star Graham Norton, the cast of The Musketeers, Tom Hollander (Valkyrie, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End), Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) and the professional dancers from India’s Dancing with the Stars will be among the stars on hand for the Showcase.

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Hollywood writer and director Robert B. Weide (Curb Your Enthusiasm, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People) will talk about his new comedy Mr Sloane, starring Frost. And Lost star Dominic Monaghan will discuss the second season of his Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan. BBC Worldwide also promises "a few special guest surprises."

For BBC Worldwide, the Showcase is a platform for more in-depth sales talks than such markets as MIPTV or MIPCOM typically allow for.

The new players represented and the record number of attendees this year is seen as latest proof that shows from the BBC and British indies continue to be hot exports.

"Showcase truly is one of the hallmarks of the international TV sales year. British programming is experiencing a surge in popularity, and Showcase is the perfect opportunity for us to bring international content buyers and commissioners together with some of the brightest talent and creatives the U.K. has to offer," said Matt Forde, executive vp, sales and co-productions at BBC Worldwide North America. "This year we have more North American participants than ever before, including notable players A&E Networks, AMC, Google Play, Netflix and PBS, among others."

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In one deal that came together before the Showcase, Luther will be remade for Russian TV network Channel One under BBC Worldwide's first-ever deal for the format with production firm Sreda.

The adaptation, to be called Klim, will get eight hour-long episodes, start production in August and air in 2015. Alexander Tsekalo, co-owner and general producer of Sreda, said: "Everyone’s looking for the next Sherlock, and we think Klim, our version of Luther, will be it!"

Other BBC Worldwide dramas that have been licensed to Russia of late include Ripper Street, The Paradise, Father Brown, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries and Pride and Prejudice.  

Top Gear, The Weakest Link, What Not to Wear, Life on Mars and Strictly Come Dancing have also been remade for Russian TV.

The BBC Worldwide Showcase is believed to typically ring up $76 million (£50 million) in programming sales, or around 20 percent of BBC Worldwide annual sales. The event takes place at Liverpool’s BT Convention Center Sunday-Wednesday.

Said Paul Dempsey, president, global markets at BBC Worldwide: "We’ve had a phenomenal response to our 38th annual Showcase in Liverpool with many first time attendees, including Google Play and DirecTV, making this flagship event for British TV exports the most global yet. We have a great slate of new titles across every genre and are delighted to be hosting some superb talent over the four days of the event."

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai