BBC Adds German Drama 'Generation War'

Foreign-language fare earn regular slots in pubcaster's skeds

LONDON — The BBC has strengthened its lineup of foreign-language programming with the acquisition of German war drama “Generation War.”

The miniseries — which will air in the U.K. as three 90-minute episodes — follows the war-times experiences of five friends from 1941-45.

The series drew record ratings for ZDF in Germany — attracting 8.5 million viewers for a market share of 24% — and sparked a nationwide debate about the responsibility of ordinary people for war crimes.

Beta Films, which is handling worldwide rights, has sold it to more than 60 countries, and it has earned strong ratings abroad. For example, in Poland it nabbed a 29% share, while in Sweden it took a 25% share.

U.S. distributor Music Box is planning a theatrical release for the drama.

Sue Deeks, head of program acquisition for the BBC, said: “’Generation War’ has a truly epic sweep and emotionally compelling narrative.”

Over the past seven years, the BBC has made foreign-language drama a strong feature of its fiction offer, starting with French cop drama “Spiral” in 2006, then followed by the Swedish version of detective drama “Wallander,” the Danish version of crime thriller “The Killing,” Danish political drama “Borgen,” Italo detective series “Inspector Montalbano” and Danish crime series “The Bridge.” Earlier this year, it added Swedish crime series “Arne Dahl” and Italian series “Inspector De Luca” to its foreign legion.

But all of those series aired on high-brow channel BBC4, which attracts relatively small audiences. The foreign-language slot in the BBC4 sked earned an average 2.9% share of the U.K. audience last year. “Generation War,” on the other hand, will air on BBC2, which attracts far higher ratings.

TeamWorx produced “Generation War” for ZDF and Austria’s ORF.

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