Italy’s expanding Effe TV has inked a flurry of deals for high-end international dramas from players such as Entertainment One, BBC Studios, Endemol Shine and ITV Studios Global Entertainment, from which it picked up the BBC’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ classic novel “The War of the Worlds.”
All six acquired dramas are based on literary properties. The deals signal the ambition of Effe TV, a subsidiary of Italian publisher and bookseller Feltrinelli Group, “to bring top international products to Italian TV audiences,” said Riccardo Chiattelli, director of the company’s LaF channel. The channel airs on Sky Italia, the Italian unit of Comcast-owned paybox Sky.
Besides the BBC’s three-part “War of the Worlds,” which toplines Rafe Spall (“The Big Short”) and Eleanor Tomlinson (“Poldark”) and is being produced by ITV-owned Mammoth Screen, LaF has also picked up three seasons of crime drama “Cardinal,” an adaptation of Canada’s bestselling “John Cardinal Mysteries,” from eOne. From BBC Studios, LaF has taken “In the Dark,” based on thrillers by British writer Mark Billingham, and the third season of comedy-drama “The Durrells,” based on the books of late explorer and author Gerald Durrell.
From Endemol Shine, LaF has purchased the 2013 miniseries “Death Comes to Pemberley,” adapted from the novel by P.D. James.
In an interview, Chiattelli said that several years ago, LaF made “the rather radical choice of focusing on TV series that are book adaptations,” which benefit from a marketing strategy that combines Feltrinelli’s books and TV sides. “All the series we launch are marketed in tandem with the Italian publishers of the book properties they stem from,” he noted.
Shows based on books that have aired on the expanding Italian niche channel include cult series such as “Maigret” starring Rowan Atkinson, the BBC’s “War and Peace,” Nordic noir “Wallander” and Wild Bunch TV’s Cuban crime thriller “Four Seasons in Havana.”
Chiattelli emphasized, however, that the bulk of LaF’s programming relies on factual content, including original productions, despite the high-end drama acquisitions. Effe TV is starting to expand its footprint internationally on this front, having recently partnered with Canada’s DBcom Media on several Italy-based episodes of Canadian-Danish urban designer Mikael Colville-Andersen‘s global documentary series “The Life-Sized City,” starting with an episode on Milan that will air in December.