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Tom Hardy’s ‘Taboo’ Bought for China by Alibaba, Youku

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and its streaming platform, Youku, have signed up to air the BBC drama “Taboo,” starring and created by Tom Hardy. Both companies also bought the rights to two additional children’s programs, “The Moe Show” and “Pop Up,” via separate deals brokered by London-based co-production, financing and distribution group The Media Pioneers.

Youku will begin broadcasts of “Taboo” this month and the other two by year’s end. Alibaba will promote the brands across China. Youku is one of China’s largest video streaming platforms, with an interface similar to YouTube’s. It has more than 500 million monthly active users and 800 million daily views.

“Taboo” by Hardy – whose movie “Venom” has just had a monster opening weekend in China – “was a hugely successful series in the U.K., which we are excited to bring to Chinese audiences and look forward to it having the same reception there,” said Maggie Liang, managing director and executive producer at The Media Pioneers. She added that the company believes the two children’s programs, both produced by New Zealand’s Pop Up Workshop, would “perform well in China amongst little ones.”

“Taboo,” an eight-part British miniseries, was produced by Scott Free London and Hardy Son & Baker, and aired last year on BBC One. Based on a story written by Hardy and his father, the screenwriter and novelist Edward John “Chips” Hardy, it tells a tale set in 19th-century London of an adventurer who returns from Africa and seeks vengeance after he becomes embroiled in his late father’s debts and troubles.

The screenplay won its writing team a prize for best long-form TV drama from the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain in January.

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