×

China Plans Remake of BBC Time-Travel Cop Show ‘Life on Mars’ (EXCLUSIVE)

A Chinese “Life on Mars” is in the works after BBC Studios and Phoenix Entertainment inked a deal to create a Mandarin-language version of the time-travel cop series. BBC Studios will officially unveil the format deal at Showcase, its annual programming market for international buyers, which is now underway in Liverpool, England.

Life on Mars” was created by Endemol Shine-owned producer Kudos and initially aired on BBC One in the U.K. in 2006. ABC aired a U.S. version, which had a pilot from David E. Kelley and a cast that included Harvey Keitel and Michael Imperioli.

Phoenix will start production on a 24-episode season of the scripted show this year. The original version saw a cop (John Simm) transported from the present day to the 1970s after a near-fatal accident. He finds himself working with Gene (Philip Glenister), a no-nonsense colleague and unreconstructed male. The Chinese version will see a modern-day lawman transported back to 1990s Beijing.

A deal for a Chinese version of “Broadchurch” was inked earlier this year, and “Life on Mars” will be another marquee British drama getting a local makeover. The deal is the first between Phoenix and BBC Studios, the commercial and production arm of British pubcaster the BBC. The show does not have a broadcaster or platform attached but is considered a likely candidate for a local streamer.

“Following the huge success of our hit drama ‘Day and Night,’ developed and produced by Phoenix Entertainment Group for Youku, we have been carefully considering other shows that could meet the criteria of high quality and consistency with our slate and brand,” said Bihai Wu, VP and general manager at Phoenix. “BBC Studios offers a great range of dramas that match our ambitions to produce captivating, first-class dramas for the fast-growing Chinese SVOD market and their discerning audiences.”

As a format, “Life on Mars” has traveled well, selling to territories including Russia, Spain, the Czech Republic and South Korea.

“I am delighted that our first partnership with Phoenix Entertainment Group is ‘Life on Mars,’ which ranks as one of the best dramas to come out of the U.K.,” said David Weiland, EVP Asia for BBC Studios. “We have a huge range of high-quality scripted titles from ‘Doctor Foster’ and ‘Luther’ to ‘Thirteen’ and ‘In the Club,’ shows that would captivate Chinese audiences.”

More TV

  • Jon Wax

    Jon Wax Joins Amazon Studios as Head of Genre Programming (EXCLUSIVE)

    YouTube’s head of scripted programming Jon Wax is joining Amazon Studios as its head of genre programming, Variety has learned. Wax will take up the position recently vacated by Sharon Tal Yguado. He had joined YouTube in August 2017, heading up drama, unscripted and current programming for YouTube’s premium channel. Prior to that, he had [...]

  • South Park Donald Trump

    TV News Roundup: Comedy Central Sets 'South Park' Season 23 Premiere Date

    In today’s TV News roundup, Comedy Central announces the premiere date of “South Park” Season 23 and Netflix sets the premiere date and offers a first look at “Unbelievable.”  DATES Comedy Central announced that Season 23 of “South Park” will premiere Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. Because the episodes are written and animated so [...]

  • US actor Kevin Spacey (C) is

    Kevin Spacey Shouldn't Be Exonerated in Hollywood Even as Criminal Case Ends (Column)

    The news that criminal charges against Kevin Spacey in the Nantucket groping case have been dropped raises an inevitable question: does this mean he can claw his way back into Hollywood’s good graces? Or maybe more importantly: should it?  Spacey’s rapid descent was startling, even as it quickly followed that of the once untouchable producing [...]

  • Game of Thrones

    HBO's Return to Emmy Nomination Dominance May Be Short-Lived (Column)

    As Hollywood braces for the coming streaming wars, HBO’s huge Emmy nomination haul this week sent a new salvo Netflix’s way: The streamer may have the volume, but HBO still has the goods. At least this year. HBO’s record-breaking 137 nominations came on the strength of just 23 programs — led, of course, by “Game [...]

  • Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer

    Starz Nears Realignment: Why Lionsgate Won't Hire a CEO to Replace Chris Albrecht

    Nearly six months after Starz CEO Chris Albrecht exited in February, Lionsgate brass is moving closer to a revamp of the premium TV network’s executive structure. According to insiders, at least one thing is clear: Albrecht is not expected to be replaced as CEO. Instead, Lionsgate chief executive Jon Feltheimer is taking a more active [...]

  • Titans Ep. 102

    'Titans' Crew Member Dies After Stunt Goes Wrong at Special Effects Facility

    A crew member of DC Universe show “Titans” died following an incident during rehearsal at a special effects facility in Toronto on Thursday. The stunt, which involved a car, went awry when a piece of the car broke off unexpectedly and struck a special effects coordinator. Production will be shut down for two days. “We [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content