France Televisions reups with 'Death in Paradise'

PARIS — Franco-German net Arte has pre-bought Jane Campion and Garth Davis’ “Top of the Lake” from BBC Worldwide France, which has also revealed several other deals in the run-up to Mipcom.

The mystery drama, which toplines Elisabeth Moss, Holly Hunter and Peter Mullan, was commissioned by the BBC and the Sundance Channel, and is produced by See-Saw Films (“The King’s Speech”). The series will be delivered at the end of the year.

Campion will be on hand at Mipcom with the skein’s co-creator and co-writer Gerard Lee to participate in a “Creative Talks” session.

Earlier this year, Arte teamed with the BBC on “Parade’s End,” another upscale drama starring high-profile talent, Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall.

“Over the last year and a half, Arte has become a valued partner on drama,” said Tim Muff, managing topper of BBC Worldwide France, the Paris-based sales and distribution arm of the U.K. group.

Arte is not the only French broadcaster that has forged ties with the BBC recently.

Pubcaster France Televisions, which co-produced the first season of Robert Thorogood’s crime drama “Death in Paradise” with the Beeb, has returned as a co-producer on season 2. It will be delivered next year.

Other BBC drama deals include the sale of season 3 of both “Sherlock” and “Wallander” to Arte, and “Luther’s” season 3 to Canal Plus.

Muff said BBC Worldwide France was in talks with a number of local broadcasters on “Ripper Street,” a mystery skein set during the aftermath of Jack The Ripper murders, which will be introduced to buyers at Mipcom.

Nearly half of BBC Worldwide’s drama catalog is made up of third-party productions — such as Cris Cole’s “Mad Dogs” — that have not aired on BBC.

“When we feel that there’s kind of a gap in the market, we’re happy to distribute on behalf of independent producers, if we consider their product of sufficient quality and commercial potential,” Muff said. “We’ll give minimum guarantees in most cases, which help finance the shows and then we negotiate the rights package that we want.”

Meanwhile, French pubcaster’s channel France 5 has come on board to co-produce an untitled BBC-commissioned blue-chip documentary looking at African wildlife and how it interacts with the coastline and desert across the continent. The docu has a very large budget, in line with “Life” or “Planet Earth,” and will be delivered early 2013, said Muff.

“We sell roughly a 100 hours of factual programming to France Television every year — some are straightforward sales and some are co-produced or pre-bought by them,” said Muff.

In another BBC Worldwide deal, Canal Plus and ZDF have boarded “Planet Dinosaur,” a four-part BBC docu series that was also turned into a 50-minute 3D doc. Docu-series looks at predators that have been discovered over the past few years.

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