BBC Worldwide, Spanish Net Atresmedia, Team For ‘Refugees’

In a pioneering arrangement, series will be shot in Spain but in English

BBC Worldwide, Spanish Net Atresmedia, Team ‘Refugees’

MADRID – BBC Worldwide and Spain’s Atresmedia, one of its two dominant broadcast network groups, are teaming to produce an original high-concept English-language sci-fi drama, “The Refugees.”

“Refugees” chronicles the impact on a small rural community after millions of refugees from the future travel back in time to seek shelter in the present.

In a novel arrangement for Spain, BBC Worldwide will bring its large international muscle to the table, acting as a co-producer, commissioner for international channels and global distributor.

Ramon Campos, one of the most international of Spain’s show-runners, co-created “The Refugees” with Gema R. Neira, Cristobal Garrido and Adolfo Valor. It will be produced by Spain’s Bambu Producciones, whose credits include the Spanish-language “Grand Hotel,” aired by the U.K.’s Sky Arts and French broadcaster M6. Campos and partner Teresa Fernandez Valdes own Bambu.

English-language TV series made out of Spain are rare. Slammed by economic crisis, TV ad revenues plunged 53% from their 2007 peak to Euros1.65 billion ($2.3 billion) in 2013, obliging broadcasters to pare budgets – already minute by U.K. standards – to the bone. Ambitious skeins will now rarely get made out of Spain without the support of strong international TV players.

That of course has an upside for foreign TV partners.

“The appeal of using British talent whilst growing our content pipeline by sourcing it from a new European partner really spoke to us. As did the opportunity to shoot an English-speaking drama in Spain with a British cast and writer,” said Ben Donald, executive producer for international drama, BBC Worldwide.

He added: “This is part of an emerging trend for some European networks to move into English-language drama; we are now exploring this model to deliver cost-effective, high quality output. And combined with Atresmedia’s ambition and such an intriguing original story this was a collaboration too good to shy away from.”

“Being able to address a project of this type… provides the possibility to innovate in our market and to create a product with international scope,” added Sonia Martinez, manager of fiction at Atresmedia TV.

Emiliano de Pablos contributed to this report