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Thalidomide drama is hit for ARD

'Side Effects' beats soccer in ratings

BERLIN — Pubcaster ARD’s controversial TV two-parter “Side Effects” (“Contergan — Ein einzige Tablette”) proved a ratings bonanza this week, with Thursday night’s broadcast even outperforming a UEFA Cup soccer match between Bayern Munich and Bolton Wanderers.

Part two of the drama, which became the subject of a lengthy and much publicized court battle this year, attracted an impressive 6.85 million viewers — down slightly from the 7.27 million that tuned in for part one on Wednesday night but nevertheless an excellent market share of 21.2%.

Produced by Cologne-based Zeitsprung Entertainment and WDR for pubcaster ARD, “Side Effects” chronicles the thalidomide drug scandal of the early 1960s that resulted in birth defects in thousands of babies in Europe.

Gruenenthal, the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the drug, tried to block the film on German TV, but the country’s highest court last month greenlit the broadcast and paved the way for international sales. Pic was released on DVD on Friday.

ARD continued its ratings streak following the movie Thursday with “Contergan,” an in-depth documentary about the scandal that kept auds glued to the tube, attracting nearly 5.8 million viewers and likewise besting the 2-2 match between Bayern Munich and Bolton Wanderers on ProSieben, which drew a healthy 5.2 million viewers and a 16.3% market share.

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