NEWS published on 15 Sep 2014

Eurovision Creative Days 2014 shares secrets of adapting successful TV formats

Nora Melhli, Head of Shine France Films at Eurovision Creative Days 2014 (EBU/Peter Kittler)

Fiction experts attending Eurovision Creative Days 2014 in Berlin have shared key insights that ensure the successful country adaptation of prime European TV formats.   

At the opening session of the annual event, Nora Melhli, head of drama at production company Shine France Films described the processes involved in adapting the award winning Skandinavian series, 'The Bridge' and the British crime drama series 'Broadchurch,' now in pre-production.

"In both instances, our goal was to preserve the essence of the original drama," Ms Melhli said. "The Bridge (co-produced by EBU Members DR Denmark and SVT Sweden) plays on cultural differences. We translate what we hear, but linguistic misunderstandings still abound. Our production of 'The Tunnel,' which audiences enjoyed last year, explores what it is to be French and what it is to be British, in the same way that 'The Bridge' explores what it is to be Danish or Swedish."  

Ms Melhli recommended against making what she described as 'useless changes' to stories and urged close collaboration with the original creators.

"Do what makes sense specifically in your country to make the series 'your own,' but avoid changes to the genre," she said. "On the surface Broadchurch is a whodunnit, but it explores the impact the murder of a young boy has on a small community in Dorset, England. Our adaptation is set in Corsica, an island in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to France, within a community which is closed to outsiders in the same way. In the original series, by the 7th epidsode we know the identiy of the murderer. But we leave aside one final episode to explore the consequences on the community, that will never be the same."

More than 260 programme makers from the EBU community have gathered for the Eurovision Creative Days. The three-day event includes a series of parallel workshops and meetings on topical industry matters, mainly: