A top three staple on Spotify’s list of most popular podcasts in Spain since launching May 19, “Xrey” dives into the details of Spain’s often-mysterious King Juan Carlos de Borbón I who, after 50 years as the head of the Spanish state, abdicated suddenly in 2014 with little explanation.
“Toni and his team at The Story Lab Spain have brought the ‘XRey’ story to life in a brilliantly creative way to deliver a breakout hit on Spotify that has the pace of a political thriller,” The Story Lab global president Michael Iskas said in a release.
“XRey” the podcast uses a collection of more than 40 testimonies from figures close to the royal family as well as historians and journalists specializing in the Spanish monarchy to examine King Juan’s time on the throne.
In the podcast, the king’s former head of the royal household Rafael Spottorno and ex-head of communication Javier Ayuso speak publicly about their time with the king for the first time, offering previously undocumented insight into what went on behind the scenes.
In addition to first person accounts, the series uses AI software to recreate the voice of former Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco who was responsible for restoring the Spanish monarchy and appointing King Juan as his successor before his death in 1975. However, after the dictator’s death, King Juan enrolled a member of Franco’s own establishment, Adolfo Suarez, to re-install democracy in Spain in a remarkable transition process.
Previously unpublished reports detailing American president Richard Nixon’s involvement in the transition are examined and explain how western Cold War fears combined with leftover bad blood from the Spanish Civil War – in which communists fought against Franco’s rebels – influenced Spain’s move towards democracy.
“The overnight success of the podcast series on Spotify has highlighted the powerful appeal of this incredible story, which is immersed in secrecy, scandal and tragedy,” said “XRey” producer Toni Garrido.
Tomás Cimadevilla, president of Weekend Studio, added: “XRey has a potent mix of intrigue, royalty and international power play. This fascinating story, which is captivating listeners on Spotify, is ideal for adaptation as a major TV drama.”
The Story Lab has plans to snag further adaptations on other popular podcast IPs from around the world.
Other potential podcast-to-TV adaptations hinted at by The Story Lab could cover themes ranging from Winston Churchill’s diaries to story of global soccer super-agent Jorge Mendes. In each case, The Story Lab would retain all rights.
“With continuing rapid change across the industry, we are pursuing new ways to launch IP into the global marketplace, creating podcasts that build excitement around stories with terrific potential to cross over to TV drama and other genres,” added Iskas.