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‘Wear’ appeal translates well overseas

Series has carried over well in many countries

Style, as they say, never goes out of fashion. And few anywhere in Europe or North America can resist a TV show that provides sound advice on how to dress to impress.

Launched by the BBC in the U.K. nine years ago, “What Not to Wear” has emerged as a successful international format for the pubcaster.

“Its appeal is universal, and it is a very easy show for me to explain to buyers,” says Gareth Williams, director of new programming at BBC Worldwide.

Last year, the distributor achieved a milestone of sorts by licensing the show to Italy.

“Italians know a thing or two about fashion, so they took a little bit of persuading to take the show,” Williams says. “Why would they need the British to tell them about fashion? It was not unlike us selling a show about food to the French.”

Says Francesca Canetta, director of Magnolia (the local shingle in Italy that produces “WNTW” for Discovery Real Time): “The real appeal of the show is not the fashion, but that it is a program about real people and helps them to become more confident in their everyday life.”

BBC America aired the original British version of the program from 2002 to 2007. The series is in its eighth season in Russia and has also been adapted in Australia, Norway and South Africa.

Though new episodes of “What Not to Wear” are no longer being made in the U.K., Williams thinks the format will remain fashionable in international markets for at least another five years.

” ‘What Not to Wear” is not a show about fashion but about style, which I think partly explains the secret of its longevity as a format,” Williams says.

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