Fremantle has sold out most major territories worldwide on the Martin Freeman-led BBC One smash hit “The Responder,” consolidating the acclaimed crime drama’s contention, even at this early stage, to become one of Europe’s top series of 2022. 

Banner deals take in France (Canal Plus), Italy (Disney Plus), Germany’s (Magenta TV). Spain (Movistar Plus) and Russia & CIS (Viasat), all leading pay/SVOD operators.  

The sales come as Fremantle, thanks to “The Responder,” “Cross Fire,” “Suspect” and “This Sceptred Isle” looks set to see an unprecedented four U.K. premium dramas finishing production in 2022. Led by “Fellow Travelers,” its English-language sales lineup for 2023 looks equally bullish. 

In all, in 2022 Fremantle’s U.K. drama output will more than double compared to the previous year, said Jens Richter, at Fremantle’s global sales arm, Fremantle International, which he oversees as CEO.

That, however, is part of larger global surge. For 2022, Fremantle is predicting a 25% increase in global content production, including Michael Winterbottom’s “This Sceptred Isle” for Sky Atlantic starring Kenneth Branagh, BBC’s “Crossfire” with Keeley Hawes and the Penelope Cruz led “L’immensità” produced by Italy’s Wildside.

In 2021, Fremantle and its international network of scripted labels delivered 71 dramas and produced 14 feature films including AMC Plus series pickup “Anna” by Niccolò Ammaniti, Apple TV Plus original series “The Mosquito Coast” by Neil Cross, and Paolo Sorrentino’s critically acclaimed “The Hand of God” which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival, and on Tuesday was nominated for Best International Feature Film at the Academy Awards.

“We’re clearly on a growth trajectory and looking at multiple avenues on how to bring more production and creative talent into the family,” said Richter.

Produced by Fremantle-backed Dancing Ledge Productions and written by Tony Schumacher, a former cop, “The Responder” casts Freeman as an urgent response police officer on the edge working nightshifts in Liverpool. Overwhelmed, depressed, morally compromised, he is forced to take on a new rookie partner (Adelayo Adedayo, “Unsaid Stories”).

“The Responder” drew rave reactions: “With rage in his heart and spit on his face, Freeman will surely win all awards for this drama,” The Guardian predicted. It also bowed Jan. 24 to a consolidated seven-day audience of 7.6 million.

To achieve strong reviews and ratings is “a very, very rare combination,” said Richter, but “The Responder,” he went on, is “authentic, a – sometimes literally – dark drama, but high-paced, irresistible, and Freeman and Adedayo are fantastic.”   

BritBox North America will air “The Responder.” In further sales, Fremantle has also closed Australia (SBS), Africa (Canal Plus, MNET), Hungary (RTL), Greece (Cosmote), the Balkans (Pickbox) and Slovakia (Rozhlas A Telvize). Dazzler acquired DVD and EST rights for the U.K. and Ireland. 

Directed by Tim Mielants (“Peaky Blinders”) and produced by Rebecca Ferguson (“The Trial of Christine Keeler”), “The Responder” is executive produced for Dancing Ledge by Laurence Bowen and Chris Carey, alongside Freeman and Mona Qureshi for BBC One.”

A major BBC One miniseries now in the final stages of production, “Crossfire” will be “very mainstream as well,” said Richter. “Bodyguard” and “Line Of Duty” star Hawes plays an ex-cop at a Canary Island hotel suddenly invaded by gunmen wreaking revenge. Fremantle had brought on TVE to co-produce. 

Starring James Nesbitt (“Bloodlands”) and Richard E Grant (“Loki”), Channel 4 crime thriller “Suspect,” from Eagle Eye Drama, is finishing production.

Fremantle is also readying “Domino Day,” a Dancing Ledge supernatural series coming out in 2023 and set against the dating scene in Manchester, and “Wrecked,” a six-part comedy horror series from Fremantle’s Euston Films (“The Sister”), both for BBC Three. “Mystery targeting younger audiences, which is a great demographic to hit, is a space we’re very much looking to be in,” Richter said, citing the long-running “Wellington Paranormal,” a New Zealand horror mockumentary which Fremantle distributed globally with large success.

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This Sceptred Isle Courtesy of Fremantle

Co-produced by Fremantle’s Passenger, run by “True Detective” producer Richard Brown, Michael Winterbottom’s highly -anticipated “This Sceptred Isle,” with Branagh as Boris Johnson, will finish production in the second half of this year, Richter said.

Of upcoming 2022/23 shows from Australia, ‘70s surf scene drama “Barons” will bow in Spring. “The Jump,” set at a Sydney suicide cliff and co-produced by VOD platform Stan, will go into production soon.

Fremantle will soon be able to announce more shows from Australia and Canada, Richter said. 

Richter noted that Fremantle has been very successful placing non-English language shows in the U.S., a hot market, whether Tobias Lindholm’s “The Investigation,” “My Brilliant Friend,” sourced from Elena Ferrante’s novels, Lucia Puenzo’s “La Jauría” and Niccolò Ammaniti’s “Anna.”

That said, “English-language series still have the widest audience and geographic reach, so for about the last two years, while consolidating non-English language premium drama output around the world, we have placed better emphasis on production in the U.K. and Australia,” Richter said, adding that they can fully support “access to stars and great talent.”

“Martin Freeman is insanely recognisable cast,” Richter enthused. “More and more U.K. shows are hitting the mainstream and having a real impact in the global market,” he added.  

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Jens Richter Courtesy of Fremantle