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BBC eyes U.S. towns for ‘Women’

Producers to conduct weeklong social experiment

BBC Worldwide Prods. has quietly begun casting in the U.S. for an adaptation of format “The Week the Women Went,” an unscripted docu series in which the entire female population of a town vanishes.

“Women” has a cast-contingent greenlight to go straight to series, with the casting more than a matter of simply filling a few roles. Producers are currently seeking a town where they will conduct a weeklong social experiment of what life without any females at all would be like, with all of the women who work and live there volunteering to make themselves scarce.

Show will tell the townwide story, mainly through a focus on a number of people and families.

The format (though not the U.S. version) is being positioned as a key title at the upcoming 35th BBC Showcase, Blighty’s 550-buyer television export event, running from Sunday through Wednesday in Brighton.

“Top Gear USA,” another high-profile Showcase title, has already sold in eight countries including Australia, Italy and Israel.

“The Week the Women Went” debuted in 2005 on BBC3, where it became No. 3 in audience ratings among unscripted series with 572,000 viewers. It increased BBC3’s primetime average in auds 16-34 by 181%. It has also done well abroad.Subsequently, “Women” was sold in Canada, where two eight-episode seasons (each taking place in towns with populations under 1,000) aired on CBC. Some episodes of season two reached the million-viewer mark, a 31% improvement on season one.

Germany (Kabel 1), Sweden (SVT), Belgium (VRT), Canada (CBC), Denmark (TV2), Norway (TV2), Finland (YLE) and Holland (SBS) have also acquired the format. Most recently, BBC Worldwide production studios in France and India have made deals to produce local versions, to air on France Televisions and Hindi-language channel Star Plus.

” ‘The Week the Women Went’ has proved extremely popular with audiences around the world,” BBC Worldwide exec veep of international production Matt Paice said of the France and India sales. “These mark the ninth and 10th deals we’ve made on this format.

“This format is extremely versatile: In France it’s airing as a single piece of event TV – and it marks France2’s first foray into reality television. In India it will be a long-running series with eliminations. Either way, these shows are certain to hit the headlines with a subject matter that continues to command attention.”

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