British holiday programming has become a reliable export as the days get shorter and families curl up in front of the television. Thanks to Christmas specials that have been a hit, such shows like The One Show, the UK has seen its popularity grow. “The Office” “Gavin & Stacey.”
“Demand for British content is higher than ever across the board,”Louise McNab is the director of content sales at BBC Studios. This is the commercial arm for the U.K public broadcaster. “International audiences appreciate the ambition and creativity of British shows, as well as the level of authorship.”
Sally Habbershaw is executive vice president for the Americas at All3Media. She compares holiday specials to top offerings like “All Creatures Great and Small” “The Larkins”To “a cup of warm tea and a blanket.”
“You snuggle and enjoy them,”According to the executive, holidays are important. “ideally represent some form of nostalgia and security.”
Habbershaw, despite the growing audience fragmentation caused in part by individual media devices is a strong believer in the communal experience that watching a seasonal TV program with family is, which is what is most common in most households. As a destination for British programming in the U.S., niche outlets like BritBox and Acorn TV are recommended by the executive.
Jason Simms (director of international scripted at Sky, Comcast-backed pay television operator) notes that British comedy was a difficult sell in the past but the success of writers, performers, and producers like “Ted Lasso”Star Nick Mohammed “Catastrophe”Sharon Horgan and Aisling Beta are the creators “This Way Up” “Fleabag”Phoebe Waller Bridge, among other powerhouses, has set the standard for this genre on the international stage.
“The appetite across our genres cuts through all routes to market,” McNab says.
However, the intention isn’t necessarily global domination. BBC programs generally adhere to this mantra “Local — out,”Programs must first target the U.K. market before moving on to international sales.
Sky also first produces original content for its subscribers in Britain, Germany, and Italy. The content then spreads widely throughout Sky and then through international sales organization NBCUniversal Intl. Television Distribution
Simms says that Sky’s holiday-focused content, which this year includes Mark Gatiss-starring ghost story “The Amazing Mr Blunden,”The product is a good performer in English-speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and New Zealand. It also sells well internationally. Other highlights of the 2021 slate are “Hansel and Gretel: After Ever After”And the movie “A Boy Called Christmas.”
Although the U.K. public service broadcasters’ full holiday slates will be revealed later this month, the BBC is already seeing strong demand for upcoming titles, including the Ben Whishaw-led “This Is Going to Hurt,”This adaptation was taken from Adam Kay’s international bestseller memoir. “Superhoe,” based on Nicôle Lecky’s solo stage play.
While “This Is Going to Hurt” is culturally specific, following the travails of a junior doctor in the U.K.’s beleaguered National Health Service, global audiences have become used to seeing images of medical services pushed to the limit during the pandemic, explaining the demand for the show, which will bow on co-production partner AMC Plus in the U.S.
In the meantime, “Superhoe,”McNab states that Gen Zers and millennials will be familiar with the depiction of life on social media, and the world of influencers.
Executive at BBC: “The strength of writing, characterization and production values are what audiences come to our scripted shows for, and we find that a strong sense of place helps shows travel.”