The 'Host' with the most cracks U.K.'s TV market

ITV grabs German format, a first

COLOGNE, Germany -- U.K. broadcaster ITV has picked up the hit German entertainment show "Beat Your Host" from SevenOne International, the first time a top British channel has acquired a German format.

Local presenter Vernon Kay will host the U.K. version of the show, in which a contestant battles with a celebrity in a series of physical and mental challenges for a £50,000 ($100,000) cash prize. If the celebrity wins, the prize money is rolled over to boost the jackpot for the following show.

ITV has ordered eight episodes of the program, which will be titled "Beat the Star" in the U.K.

The German TV market is awash in British formats -- from "Pop Idol" to "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" to "The Super Nanny" -- but "Beat the Star" will mark the first time a German format has broken the language barrier in the U.K.

"The British are very good at developing their own formats, and it is a tough market," said Jens Richter, managing director of SevenOne International. "But they are starting to become more open to successful international formats from the U.S. and the European continent. And 'Beat Your Host' has been incredibly successful in Germany."

Another recent foreign invader is MGM Television's "American Gladiators," which Sky has picked up for a relaunch on the Brit market.

The German show has been a ratings smash for Munich-based channel Pro7, with a market share topping 30% in the 14-49 demographic.

The program is the brainchild of German late-night entertainer Stephan Raab. In the original version, Raab battles a member of the public in a series of competitions ranging from the physically demanding (pole vaulting) to the ridiculous (paper-airplane building, cheese tasting).

" 'Beat the Star' is a hugely dramatic piece of event TV -- it takes the thrills and spills of a sporting event and combines it with the emotion and jeopardy of a high-stakes game show," said Duncan Gray, controller of entertainment at ITV.

ITV has begun production, and the show is set to air later in the year.

SevenOne has sold the format to about 14 territories, including France, Spain, Italy and Australia. Warner Horizon Television, the reality TV production division of Warner Bros. TV, has the U.S. rights.