'Wolf Hall,' Backstreet Boys in Spotlight at BBC Worldwide Showcase

Backstreet Boys 2013 publicity L

A record number of attendees will be in Liverpool for the event that starts on Oscars Sunday as BBC and British indie fare continues to draw global interest.

As L.A. gears up for the 87th Academy Awards, Liverpool, England is preparing for another big entertainment industry event. BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the U.K. public broadcaster and the largest seller of TV content outside of the U.S., will on Oscars Sunday kick off its annual Showcase, the BBC's equivalent of the L.A. Screenings and the largest TV content sales event in the world organized by a single company.

The 39th annual BBC Worldwide Showcase, set in the home of the Beatles for the fourth year in a row, will offer such Brit fare as BBC miniseries Wolf Hall, starring Damian Lewis and set to air on PBS in the U.S., and feature such talent as the Backstreet Boys.

Last year, one deal before the Showcase started set a Russian remake of BBC hit drama Luther, starring Idris Elba.

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The event has this year signed up a record number of international buyers set to attend, according to organizers, who will take a closer look and possibly buy shows from the BBC or independent producers represented by BBC Worldwide. Last year, 725 attendees registered before the event started. Among them were delegates from first-time attendees such as DirecTV and Google Play.

For BBC Worldwide, the Showcase is a platform for more in-depth sales talks than such markets as MIPTV or MIPCOM typically allow for. Buyers can screen shows in 600 digibooths and attend discussion panels and social events.

Paul Dempsey, president global markets at BBC Worldwide, said: "The range and quality of this year’s content slate will make for a special Showcase, and we can’t wait to welcome a record number of international buyers to our flagship event for British TV exports."

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BBC Worldwide earlier this month said it has sold Wolf Hall to Arte for France and Germany, SVT in Sweden, DR in Denmark, YLE in Finland and BBC First in Australia. The series is based on Hilary Mantel’s best-selling novels and paints a portrait of Thomas Cromwell, the advisor of King Henry VIII who had a meteoric rise. Its debut ratings on BBC Two made the show the network's best-performing original drama series launch since Rome in 2005.

Castmembers and others behind the drama, including director Peter Kosminsky, actors Mark Gatiss and Jonathan Pryce and former HBO Films boss and producer Colin Callender, will be in attendance at the BBC Worldwide Showcase for an evening dedicated to the series.

This year, the BBC Showcase will include an entire day dedicated to formats with a spotlight on such shows as You’re Back In The Room, a comedy game show that sees five strangers take on a series of simple games. "But all is not as it seems as each of the contestants has been hypnotized," according to a show description.

The comedy slate also includes the second season of The Wrong Mans, starring new Late Late Show host James Corden and Mathew Baynton. The drama slate include season 3 of Orphan Black and real-time medical drama Critical.

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Meanwhile, the Backstreet Boys will be in Liverpool to promote Stephen Kijak's Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of, a feature-length documentary on the tumultuous career of the biggest boy band ever, described as "a story of unprecedented success accompanied by extreme lows."

Another part of the BBC Worldwide music catalog on offer in Liverpool is One Direction: Where We Are – Live From San Siro, featuring the boy band in action during its 2014 concert tour.

Other talent set for the Showcase include Trevor Eve and O-T Fagbenle (The Interceptor), Jimmy McGovern and Russell Tovey (Banished), Kris Marshall (Death in Paradise) and Alastair Fothergill (natural history program The Hunt).

The BBC Worldwide Showcase runs Feb. 22-25.

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