As I write this, across Europe a number of peculiar things are happening.
In Spain, two villagers in the Alpujarras region of Granada, in the foothills of Sierra Nevada, sit on a stone bridge as water trickles through a ditch under their feet. The ditch was built by their ancestors 1300 years ago, and, having dredged it by hand, the two villagers are now explaining to RTVE’s camera crew how it turns out to be an ingenious way to combat the desertification of the region brought about by climate change.
Meanwhile in Sweden, a herd of moose cross a river at the exact same spot their ancestors have done for thousands of years. The only difference this year is that, hidden in the foliage, a motion-sensitive camera placed by SVT detects their arrival and silently begins recording the ancient scene.
At 7am on the Azores Archipelago, the Sport Clube Lusitânia’s young international stars from Brazil, Peru and Columbia meet for an early training run. This time they are joined by RTP’s producer-director Bruno, who impressively manages to keep up with them even carrying filming equipment – at least for a while.
And in Vienna, Austria, a young clarinetist practises the virtuosic passagework of Carl Maria von Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 2, for several hours every day in preparation for a performance in Montpellier which will be broadcast across Europe.
In a few months’ time all of this hard work will be enjoyed by millions of TV viewers across the world as the 2022 editions of the Eurovision co-production formats Back from the Brink, Inside Offside and Eurovision Young Musicians go to air in several EBU Members’ territories.
It always amazes me that all of this hard work and artistry is happening because of a small pile of contracts sitting on a desk in Geneva, or rather, because, roughly one year ago, someone working for one of our Members came up with a brilliant idea.
These programmes are just some of the successful co-productions our Members have created over the years, not forgetting, of course, the original and greatest of them all, the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC).
The viewing figures from this year’s ESC show that the average viewing share (43.3%) during the Grand Final was almost double the channel benchmark for the slot (18.2%). And it’s not only the ESC: co-producers of last year’s Back from the Brink reported market share of up to 37%: extraordinary numbers for a natural history documentary.
Clearly something about this type of programme - whether it’s the ‘touristic’ treatment of a theme across several territories, or the diversity that is baked in to the style of programme-making – appeals to audiences. This is one of many reasons the EBU TV unit is placing a new emphasis on next year’s Eurovision co-productions over the summer months.
Summer is a time for relaxing, travelling, exchanging with friends and loved ones and enjoying fresh air and a slower pace of life. Inspiration can come at any time.
If any of you working in EBU Member organizations are inspired with the next great Eurovision co-production format, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at email@example.com who can develop a simple idea into a viable co-production framework during this summer’s Eurovision Co-production Development Window which runs from 31 May – 2 September.