The “Downton Abbey” effect will be felt at Mipcom, with one of the stars of the show in town to launch her new project, an ITV-Masterpiece period drama, while a number of lavish historical series ready to take the international stage. Buyers looking for thrillers or edgy contemporary dramas will also be in luck, and several shows take on the exploration of race, community or other social issues, often with complex female characters at the fore.
As the annual market gets underway, Variety breaks down the dozen must-see series from all over the world.
Producer: The Forge
Broadcaster: Channel 4 (U.K.), Hulu (U.S.)
Distributor: All3Media Intl.
“The Accident” is the third installment of Jack Thorne’s trilogy for Channel 4 and Hulu after “National Treasure” and “Kiri.” In the new show, a large building project offers the people of a forgotten Welsh town hope, but when the rebellious daughter of a local politician leads a gang of friends onto the site, an explosion kills everyone but her. The ensuing recrimination, grief and anger threaten to destroy the town, and the local council leader’s wife (Sarah Lancashire) is left to hold the community together. The cast also includes Sidse Babett Knudsen (“Westworld”), Mark Lewis Jones (“Chernobyl”) and Adrian Scarborough (“Killing Eve”).
Producer: Dramacorp-Pampas Studios
Broadcaster: TV4 (Sweden), ZDF (Germany)
Distributor: Beta Film
Based on Jan Guillou’s best-selling “Hamilton” novels, “Agent Hamilton” will have a world-premiere screening at Mipcom, with cast and crew in attendance. The high-concept series follows former Swedish intelligence operative Carl Hamilton (“Below the Surface” star Jakob Oftebro) as he is embroiled in the investigation of a terror attack and on a mission that hints at the involvement of Russia and the U.S. The series is shot in multiple languages with a core English narrative. Scandi broadcasters MTV in Finland and TV2 in Norway have pre-bought the show.
An Artist of the Floating World
Broadcaster: NHK (Japan)
Distributor: NHK Enterprises
Set in post-World War II Japan, “An Artist of the Floating World” is an adaptation of the eponymous Kazuo Ishiguro novel. It stars Ken Watanabe in the lead role of Masuji Ono, an aging artist looking back on, and coming to terms with, his life against the backdrop of a country being rebuilt after the war. NHK has long been at the bleeding edge of TV technology and shot the drama in 8K. Mipcom attendees will be able to see it in the incredibly high-resolution format at the market. Watanabe, writer Yuki Fujimoto and director Kazutaka Watanabe will all be in Cannes to promote the project around its screening.
Producer: Blackfella Films
Broadcaster: ABC (Australia)
Distributor: Keshet Intl.
The provocatively titled “Black Bitch” had a world premiere screening at the Toronto Film Festival en route to Cannes, where it undoubtedly will be a highlight of Keshet Intl.’s slate. Deborah Mailman plays Alex Irving, an indigenous woman thrust into the high-profile and murky world of Australian politics. When she is betrayed, she works to set the record straight. Rachel Griffiths, who co-created and stars in the series, said the title is a “deliberate reclamation of the derogatory racial slur” and “an act of empowerment for the central character.”
Broadcaster: Channel 4 (U.K.)
Distributor: Endemol Shine Intl.
Hailing from “Humans” and “Grantchester” writer Daisy Coulam, “Deadwater Fell” is a limited series following two families in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Filmed and set in Scotland, the series has “Broadchurch” and “Good Omens” star David Tennant as Tom, a trusted local doctor who survives a house fire that seemingly claims the lives of his wife, Kate, and children. When it transpires they might not have been killed by the blaze, Tom is under suspicion. Anna Madeley (“The Crown”) plays Kate and Cush Jumbo (“The Good Fight”) is Jess, Kate’s best friend.
Producer: Lux Vide
Broadcaster: Sky (Italy, Germany, U.K.),
Distributor: NBCUniversal Global Distribution
High-finance conspiracy thriller “Devils” will have a world premiere at Mipcom, with its stars — Patrick Dempsey, Alessandro Borghi and Kasia Smutniak — in town for the curtain-raiser on the first day of the market. Set in the London office of a U.S. bank, the project is a period piece (set in 2011) and based on a novel by Guido Maria Brera. “Grey’s Anatomy” alum Dempsey plays the CEO of a powerful American investment bank, Smutniak (“Loro”) is his wife and Borghi (“Suburra”) is the bank’s ambitious head of trading, and Dempsey’s character’s mentor, who finds himself accused of murder. Nick Hurran (“Altered Carbon”) directs the project, which is from Sky Studios, the newly minted content arm of Comcast-owned pay-TV outfit Sky.
Producer: Screentime, Lippy Pictures, Letterbox Filmproduktion
Broadcaster: TV3 (New Zealand), ZDF (Germany)
Distributor: Banijay Rights
German and Kiwi dramas are established on the international scene, but “The Gulf” is unusual in that it combines the best of both. The six-part noir drama comes from New Zealand’s Screentime and Lippy Pictures, alongside Germany’s Letterbox, part of Studio Hamburg. It turns on the story of detective Jess Savage (Kate Elliott), who loses her memory in a car crash that kills her husband. Addicted to morphine and convinced her life is at risk because of something she uncovered in an earlier investigation, she has to re-assemble the pieces from her earlier life. Ido Drent also stars as Jess’ police partner.
Noughts & Crosses
Producer: Mammoth Screen
Broadcaster: BBC One (U.K.)
Distributor: ITV Studios Global Entertainment
The hotly anticipated adaptation of the first book in Malorie Blackman’s “Noughts & Crosses” series is ITV Studios Global Entertainment’s big drama launch at Mipcom. Set in an alternate reality in which a black ruling class (the Crosses) subjugate a white underclass (the Noughts), the story follows Sephy, a Cross (played by Masali Baduza), and Callum, a Nought (played by Jack Rowan), and traces their forbidden romance. Justin Holmes (“Outlander”) directs from lead writer Toby Whithouse’s (“Doctor Who,” “Being Human”) script. Jay Z’s Roc Nation will curate the soundtrack and socially conscious U.S. producer Participant Media is also on board.
On Death Row
Producer: Bambu Producciones
Broadcaster: Movistar Plus
“Narcos” actor Miguel Angel Silvestre will be in Cannes with “On Death Row,” a Spanish- and English-language drama based on a real case. Silvestre plays Pablo Ibar, a young man arrested for a misdemeanor but then identified as a suspect in a murder case in the 1994 Miami-set story. He insists he is innocent and the evidence appears not to incriminate him, but at the relentless insistence of the D.A. he is put through an agonizing judicial process. The four-part drama is the latest big-ticket original for Spanish subscription service Movistar Plus.
Ottilie von Faber-Castell
Producer: Wiedemann & Berg, Wilma Film
Broadcaster: ARD (Germany)
Distributor: ZDF Enterprises
Hoping to follow in the footsteps of period hits such as “Babylon Berlin” and “Das Boot” is “Ottilie von Faber-Castell.” With two feature-length episodes, it is set in late 19th century Germany and based on a true story. The drama follows the titular 16-year-old (Kristin Suckow) as she inherits her grandfather’s manufacturing business and has to negotiate a female-unfriendly business world as well as a complicated love life.
Producer: Red Planet Pictures
Broadcaster: ITV (U.K.), Masterpiece (U.S.)
Distributor: BBC Studios
“Sanditon” has already earned the nickname “‘Downton Abbey’ on Sea,” and it shares some of the DNA of its period drama forbear. It is for ITV in the U.K. and Masterpiece in the U.S. and is the kind of lavish period drama for which the Brits are known, and which fare well internationally. The series is based on Jane Austen’s final, incomplete novel. Emmy- and Bafta-winning Andrew Davies, who adapted “Les Miserables” and “War & Peace,” is on writing duty. The story follows the spirited Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams), who is transported her from her rural hometown to the would-be titular coastal resort. Heywood’s spiky relationship with the humorous, charming Sidney Parker (Theo James) becomes a central theme.
The Secrets She Keeps
Producer: Lingo Pictures
Broadcaster: Network Ten (Australia)
Distributor: DCD Rights
Fresh from the box office success of the “Downton Abbey” movie, Laura Carmichael will switch gears as she flies into Cannes with contemporary Australian drama “The Secrets She Keeps.” The series follows two women who are the same age, both heavily pregnant, and who have a chance meeting that changes their lives. Carmichael is Agatha, a shelf-stacker living on the poverty line. Jessica De Gouw (“Arrow”) is Meghan, a sophisticated influencer with a seemingly perfect life, online at least. The project is based on Michael Robotham’s psychological novel of the same name, adapted by writers Jonathan “Jono” Gavin and Sarah Walker (“Hollyoaks”). It is helmed by Catherine Millar and Jennifer Leacey.