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BBC Studios, ZDF Form Development and Co-Production Partnership

BBC Studios and German pubcaster ZDF have formed a strategic partnership to develop and co-produce “world-class content,” the two companies announced Thursday.

The new long-term partnership will bring BBC Studios, the British pubcaster’s commercial arm, and ZDF together to co-develop scripted TV series, such as “The Mallorca Files,” created by Dan Sefton. Both companies will pitch scripted projects with international appeal.

The deal also gives ZDF an exclusive first-look option in Germany to co-produce new landmark titles from BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit, such as the upcoming “One Planet, Seven Worlds,” as well as a first option on BBC Studios’ factual catalog.

Norbert Himmler, chief content officer at ZDF, said the two companies shared “the aspiration to offer the highest-quality programs across all genres.”

“The new substantial agreement consolidates the traditional and successful cooperation between the two broadcasters and strengthens our position against increasingly fierce competition – especially in times of limited financial resources,” said Himmler.

“The Mallorca Files,” which is currently in production, is a 10-part police drama about a British and a German detective (Julian Looman and Elen Rhys), who clash over how to police the Spanish island. It is produced by Cosmopolitan Pictures and Clerkenwell Films.

“One Planet, Seven Worlds” is the latest, seven-part series from BBC Studios’ world-renowned Natural History Unit and fronted by David Attenborough. The series, which will air later this year, explores the differing wildlife and landscapes of the world’s continents. Recent Natural History Unit hits have included “Dynasties,” “Planet Earth II,” “Blue Planet II” and “Frozen Planet.” ZDF’s Terra X program brand has long been the German home for these BBC factual series.

“ZDF has been Germany’s key investor in our content over the last few years and is the ideal partner, sharing the same editorial values,” said Paul Dempsey, BBC Studios’ president for global markets. “Global hits like ‘Planet Earth II’ wouldn’t have been possible without international partners like ZDF, which came on board early as a co-producer.”

The move is ZDF’s latest international partnership following its pact with France Televisions and Italy’s Rai to form the Alliance in May 2018. Last month the Alliance announced two international dramas. France Televisions is also a co-producer on “One Planet, Seven Worlds.” The broadcaster boasted a market share of 14% at home last year, the biggest in Germany for a seventh straight year.

(Pictured: ZDF president and CEO Fred Burcksen; Norbert Himmler, chief content officer at ZDF; Paul Dempsey, president global markets, BBC Studios; Charlotte Moore, director of BBC content; and Philipp Schmid, managing director, BBC Studios Germany)

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