Tag Archives: Alibi

On the Hunt

Cheat writer Gaby Hull talks about the inspiration and writing process behind six-part drama We Hunt Together, an unconventional police thriller in which two couples begin a cat-and-mouse chase.

In his first original series, Cheat, writer Gaby Hull explored a complex psychological relationship between a university professor and her student that turns toxic.

Now, in six-parter We Hunt Together, he puts a psychological twist on two sets of relationships to elevate the show from being a traditional police thriller.

Commissioned by UKTV for its Alibi channel, We Hunt Together introduces two couples who embark on a cat-and-mouse adventure in a story of sexual attraction and emotional manipulation. On one side is Freddy (Hermione Corfield), a highly intelligent, charming woman – and possible psychopath – whose chance meeting with Baba (Dipo Ola), a compassionate yet damaged former child soldier, leads them to form a decidedly deadly duo.

Meanwhile, DS Lola Franks (Eve Myles) and DI Jackson Mendy (Babou Ceesay) must overcome issues arising from their own unconventional relationship to solve a high-profile murder case, with their differing opinions on human behaviour causing conflict.

Hull was reading Truman Capote’s non-fiction novel In Cold Blood, which details the 1959 murder of four members of the same family, when the idea for We Hunt Together started to emerge.

Gaby Hull

“It starts with a terrible killing and then it flashes back and tells the story of these two killers and how they came to this moment,” he says of Capote’s book. “You spend a lot of time in their company; it treats them very objectively and invites you to identify with them on some level, and I found that very interesting. This cat-and-mouse thriller started to form in my mind, where we spend an equal amount of time with the killers and with the cops, thereby hopefully inviting a slightly different experience for the audience.

“It is very recognisably a police thriller, but there is also a relationship drama bound up in the bells and whistles of it. It’s exciting to me because there are three relationships in play. There’s the relationships within the two couples and, of course, the relationship between the two couples. Hopefully that draws the audience in and gets them to think about things in a slightly different way.”

Hull, who has also written on ITV comedy Benidorm, admits blending genres was a “tricky” process, with the series combining elements of “twisted love story, a buddy-cop movie and a cat-and-mouse thriller.” But by pushing the relationships to the forefront of the story, he hopes viewers will become fully invested in the outcome of the police investigation.

“Hopefully the audience is rooting at some point for each character, even though, at the same time, you may be repulsed by some of the things they’re doing and you may find them dark and dangerous,” he says. “You are also hopefully finding they are a surrogate for your own experience and, on some level, empathising with them despite the terrible things they’re doing.”

A running theme from the outset of the series is whether humans can be truly accountable for their actions, a point of contention that immediately puts a wedge between Lola and Jackson. Hull says he has used extreme examples to test that question, asking whether, by spending time in the company of people who commit horrendous crimes, we understand them more and may even empathise with them.

“I’ve always been very interested in free will and how accountable we are for our own actions; the myth that we are in control of our own lives when, in fact, usually it’s lots of factors beyond our control that shape our behaviour,” he says.

Babou Ceesay and Eve Myles play a detective duo in We Hunt Together

“Jackson very much believes that. He’s tired of a police force that seems to disproportionately punish young black men who look like him. He can see the system is set up to punish individuals for systemic failures, and that’s led him on this interesting journey where he no longer really believes in crime or criminals.

“Lola is very much more old school and represents the other side of that argument – that there are bad people who do bad things, and those people need to be punished. They clash very distinctly, but they also bond. They have a shared sense of humour and a bickering brother-sister relationship, so we see a lovely friendship developing at the core of it.

“I’m also interested in the idea of love interrupting cycles of dysfunction, but not necessarily romantic love,” he continues. “That’s an interesting thing that’s playing out across the series, about how loving relationships, platonic and not necessarily romantic or sentimental, can interrupt cycles of abuse and dysfunction, and how we can apply that to the criminal justice system and every area of our personal lives.”

In writing the series, which is produced and distributed by BBC Studios, Hull used these themes to build the characters, “which is not always how I go about creating characters, but I felt this story was particularly theme-driven,” he adds. “That really helped me bring those characters to life and discover how we could explore the themes through the characters’ journeys.”

Hull also knew where the characters would be at the series’ end, which helped him build the story. “That’s the way I find helpful to do it – making sure all the procedural blocks are in place along the way, making sure there are exciting hooks and exciting procedural beats that are going to bring people back, and making sure the cat-and-mouse through-line is taking us through the whole time.”

Hermione Corfield plays Freddy

According to Myles, Lola is happiest when she’s at work – until she is partnered with Jackson, who unwittingly ruffles her feathers from the start. “Through the first episode, you find her very cold, prickly and not wanting to be seen or involved in anything or connected to anybody or anything,” she says.

“Babou’s character keeps pulling her and poking her, so you find her in a vulnerable place. Through the series, you understand how she’s got there, why she is the way she is and why the relationship between Jackson and her is so difficult to make work.”

“In may ways, Jackson’s narrative doesn’t exist without Lola’s narrative,” Ceesay notes. “It’s what reveals who he is, because he’s got a specific view on life. He’s new to homicide, it’s his first murder and he’s working with someone so experienced. This is the first time he’s been able to test his theory of life, which is no one is to blame, things just happen because of whoever they are.

“So this theoretical, intellectual idea he tries to live by, all of a sudden, he’s going to be challenged by actual murders and a colleague who has no time for nonsense.”

Corfield, who plays Freddy, says her character is incredibly complex, living a chameleon-like life in which she can change her appearance to suit her surroundings. “There are so many different sides to her and she has the ability to shape-shift in whatever situation she’s in,” she says.

“What drew me to her was this survival instinct she has. Although she has traits we can’t relate to, she has a set of ideals she sticks to and morals she strongly believes. She uses her attributes to manipulate each person to get what she wants. I loved the survival element and how that fed into her life, because she’s a hustler and she’s constantly trying to weave her way around life, getting the best she can.”

Dipo Ola as Baba

Baba is working in a nightclub bathroom when he first meets Freddy, and she awakens something inside him. “As a former child soldier, to jump from doing that in the Congo to seeking refuge in the UK and working in a bar, it’s the most extreme you could get for one person,” says Ola.

“It was interesting approaching that, because I felt it was a character I wouldn’t necessarily have played at this point in my career, as he’s been through a lot more than his years suggest and that was an interesting thing to wrestle with. But they need each other. Baba likes rules and causes; there’s a cause with her, and that’s what he runs with.”

“She is quite dominant, calling the shots, but he has a quiet, strong power and she knows that, and that’s what keeps her interested,” Corfield adds. “He’s also a dark soul, because of his environment, and she’s got her own demons. They’ve both had extraordinary lives. She recognises something in him that she sees in herself but hasn’t been able to run with until she meets him.”

The first two episodes certainly deliver on both thematic and plot points, introducing the two couples’ relationships and setting the foundations for the chase in a stylish drama that moves back and forth between both pairs’ storylines. With all four individuals crossing paths early in the series, which launches on Alibi tonight, it remains to be seen how Freddy and Baba can continue to stay ahead of Lola and Jackson as their partnership takes a murderous twist.

Viewers should expect a “thrilling, edge-of-their-seat cop thriller that is elevated by the characters,” says Hull, who has also written upcoming Sky comedy Two Weeks to Live, starring Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams. “Hopefully it’s a fun show with entertainment value at the core of it and tries to make people laugh and cry and really just feel very excited for the next episode.”

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Uptown girl

Stumptown showrunner Jason Richman takes DQ inside the making of the ABC series, recalling how the original graphic novel was adapted for television and revealing how Marvel star Cobie Smulders was cast as lead character Dex Parios.

While Cobie Smulders is used to surrounding herself with superheroes as SHIELD agent Maria Hill in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, her latest TV character isn’t quite so exceptional.

But that’s what makes Dex Parios, the central character of US drama Stumptown, all the more appealing, according to showrunner Jason Richman.

Dex is a former army veteran turned private investigator whose brash style and disregard for the rules lead her into trouble. Struggling with PTSD after an explosion killed her childhood sweetheart in Afghanistan, burdened by heavy gambling debts and dealing with the responsibility of taking care of her younger brother, Dex teams up with her friend and ex-felon Grey (Jake Johnson) to take on cases the police are unwilling to pursue in Portland, Oregon.

Jason Richman

Season one of the series, which is based on a graphic novel, ran for 18 episodes in the US on the ABC network, narrowly crossing the finishing line before productions were suspended across the country as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Produced by ABC Studios, it is set to debut on UKTV network Alibi this Wednesday following a deal with distributor Disney Media Distribution.

Richman, who has previously worked on shows such as Mercy Street and Detroit 1-8-7, says the series is a “breath of fresh air” when it comes to US crime dramas, thanks to its female central character and Dex’s relationship with Grey.

“What’s different about this show is deceptively simple,” he tells DQ from his home in LA. “Most of these shows, they’re always centred on a man and the woman’s got all the brains and he gets all the credit, or it’s a conceptual spin on a partnership like that.

“What’s really great about this character, and what I kind of gravitated to, was Dex doesn’t realise she’s good at what she does and feels like a bit of a fraud at first, waiting to be found out. It might be the only thing she’s qualified to do at the end of the day. So in that way, there’s just a lot of deceptively simple attributes to the show that have not been expressed in American detective television.”

Richman hadn’t heard of the Stumptown graphic novel, published in 2009 and named after the nickname given to Portland, until a fellow producer sent it to him. By page three, he was grabbed by the story and, in particular, the character of Dex.

“She just challenged me in so many interesting ways. And even the raw, naked humanity of the character, I found very interesting,” he explains. “She didn’t have a superpower. As a matter of fact, she made so many mistakes but always seemed to fail forward. And that became the premise of the character. I added some characters, I added some attributes to her world and blew it up a little bit [for television]. It wasn’t really set up to be a TV show as a graphic novel, but it was a great jumping-off point.

Cobie Smulders as Dex Parios

“The graphic novels had a bunch of different cases; they weren’t really set up to work for a TV hour like we were going to do them. That element had to be worked on a little bit. I made some of the relationships stronger, I changed gender for some of the characters, but I tried to hold on to as much as I could in reverence to the work and also because there are good-quality, really interesting characters there. I’m very gratified that Greg Rucka, who co-created the graphic novel, was so pleased with the outcome, which is always nice to hear.”

Central to the success of the show has been Marvel and How I Met Your Mother star Smulders in the lead role as Dex, a character struggling with the trauma of her past but  often displaying a funny side too.

“In the casting process, it was really hard to find somebody who could do all the levels [of Dex’s character],” Richman says. “We found people who could do some of them, and different people could do different levels. It was very difficult to find somebody who could do them all. The pilot script went out and Cobie responded and she came in and we cast her right away.

New Girl’s Jake Johnson also stars

“It became very clear, almost instantaneously, that she’s just the perfect person to play this part. You rarely experience this. She just elevated everything, took it off the page and brought her own spin to it. She has just great instincts, and the character has become as much as hers as it is mine.

“And because Cobie is very funny, very creative and very inventive, and has a keen awareness of where the boundaries of this character are, she can come to me and say, ‘This isn’t feeling right’ or, ‘I’d like to do this.’ We have a discussion about it, then we often come to a solution, and this has been a really great evolution between us.”

In the writers room, Richman started by creating Dex’s character trajectory through the series, building an arc for her that spoke to her PTSD experience. At the beginning of the series, he describes her as “lost” and directionless, with the unique relationship between Dex and her brother being her only tie to any sense of a normal life.

“Then I wanted her to fall ass-backwards into this line of work,” he says of her becoming a PI. “I thought it would be much more interesting if she did something she was never planning on doing – something that she just got pushed into reluctantly. If she had her way, she wouldn’t do it at all.

“Then, over the course of the season, what she would find is that she’s actually good at it, despite her reluctance and despite herself. The whole thing gave her a sense of meaning and purpose. That’s where we starte,d and we just drew a roadmap from the beginning to the end of season one.”

Episodic cases she takes on are further used as a backdoor to explaining one element of Dex’s character, which evolved as writing on the first season progressed. “That’s the great Darwinian process of television that’s really fun,” Richman adds. “When you’re making it, you’re seeing what’s working and you’re always building upon the things that are working. It helps you tell the version of the story that’s most creatively satisfying to you, and you only discover that along the way.”

Smulders on set with director and exec producer James Griffiths

Fans of comedy sketch show Portlandia – which starred Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein and ran for eight seasons – will recognise several locations and the type of quirky, off-beat characters that populated the IFC series. Stumptown also aims to tap into the unique sensibilities of the city, with part of the pilot shot there and in Vancouver. The rest of the drama was then largely shot in LA, aside from some establishing and exterior scenes.

“It’s a little off-centre. It’s a really interesting place,” Richman says. “Portlanders are very serious about certain things. You walk into any restaurant in Portland and, whatever they do, they want to do it better than anybody. There’s also a certain type of frontier spirit. There’s a very inventive, survivor spirit, but also a great sense of humour. It’s not a place that takes itself overly seriously, which is kind of fun. There’s a very deep connection to Native American culture, and we certainly explore that in our show with a character who comes from that world.

“That’s a unique aspect of the show that doesn’t exist much on broadcast television. From a production point of view, we shoot a lot of establishing shots and a lot of exteriors in Portland. We try to infuse Portland as much as we can visually and also from the character point of view, by trying to find people who are a little off-centre in a way that feels true to the place.”

Making a series for broadcast television is always a battle against time, with seasons running to as many as 24 episodes. For any showrunner, that means juggling scriptwriting duties in the writing room with on-set production and post-production.

The 18-episode first season of the Portland set series aired on ABC

“Every show has its own ecosystem and dynamic, so you’re trying to wrap your head around that. For a show in its first season, there’s always a bit of catching up to do while you’re figuring out how to make it, because every show is different,” he says.

“The challenge is being up against the clock constantly, but we have a naturally talented crew that functions very well on this show. Then getting the scripts right is a time thing. It’s a crush every time, but that’s the game, it really is. There’s no way around it; you have a target, your show’s going on the air, you’re going to shoot something. It’s just a hustle. It’s one very long sprint.”

While he awaits word on a second season amid the ongoing production shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Richman says international viewers now tuning into Stumptown can expect a very human story wrapped inside a series that does its best to break the traditional rules of the detective genre.

“What’s so nice about Dex Parios, the heroine of this story is she’s a lot like us. She’s just constantly failing forward, and there’s something kind of refreshing about that,” he adds. “You don’t have to be a superhero. You just have to keep going at it. And that persistence and someone who doesn’t come at it with the ego of knowing that she’s right every time is refreshing.”

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Dynamic duo

A modern take on a crime procedural that happens to be set in 1880s London? Welcome to the world of Miss Scarlet & The Duke.

Inside Cabinteely House, a grand country manor set in parkland south-east of Dublin, all the hallmarks and finishes of an exquisite period property can be found. In one room, an ornate chandelier hangs from the ceiling above a china tea set that adorns a wooden table. Gold curtains and a marble fireplace complement the painted blue walls.

Another room is decorated with patterned wallpaper and elaborate gold furniture. A portrait sits above the fireplace while the windows are framed by lace curtains and gold drapes.

Nearby, a film crew has crammed itself into the kitchen, setting up cameras to capture both sides of a conversation about to take place around a wooden table in the middle of the small room. A deep metal sink has been built beneath the window, while copper pots dangle above the stove.

At first glance around the set, Miss Scarlet & The Duke looks to have everything we’ve come to expect from a standard costume drama. But as creator and showrunner Rachael New attests, this isn’t your usual period show.

Described as a full-throttle series about the first ever female detective, operating in 19th century London, the show sees Eliza Scarlet take on her father’s private detective agency following his death, teaming up with drinking, gambling and womanising Detective Inspector William ‘The Duke’ Wellington to solve crimes in the murkiest depths of the city.

Kate Phillips and Stuart Martin play the show’s titular characters

To create the series, New has blended her passions for watching costume dramas, writing crime shows and reading historical fiction to create a character she compares to Sherlock Holmes.

“But where Holmes is a superhero, I wanted to write a character that was a bit flawed, human and relatable,” she says. “Where Holmes would be celebrated for his brilliance, Eliza will have to prove herself a hell of a lot more to gain any kind of acceptance or respect, because our story is set at a time where women had little or no rights at all.

“This is the Victorian era, when women were meant to be submissive at home, not running around London solving crimes. As such, she would be seen as an oddity, an outcast or an embarrassment. But she is determined, she’s smart and she has a forensic mind.”

It’s her emotional intelligence and observational skills that make Eliza a great detective, New continues. But to operate beyond her limits in 1880s London, she leans on three male characters for support. First there’s the titular Duke, who as a young boy was mentored by Eliza’s father. As such, he and Eliza share a sibling bond with a bubbling attraction.

“They have this lovely, sparky, fun relationship – it’s like 19th century banter,” New says. “And they’ve got the measure of each other. They cut through the bullshit and have this very real relationship that sometimes feels very much like they’re siblings. Sometimes they are true friends, sometimes they’re potential lovers. Sometimes they’re even foes.

“So she has to manage him carefully. She does outwit him quite a lot and outmanoeuvre him but, equally, she does respect him. He doesn’t like the fact that she’s stepping on his toes. This is his world. As the season progresses, he does start to respect her more.”

Also supporting Eliza are Moses and Rupert Parker. Moses (Ansu Kabia) has come to London from Jamaica for a new beginning, but falls into a life of petty crime. After an inauspicious start, he forms an unlikely alliance with Eliza. “He essentially becomes her muscle, her minder,” says

New. “They bond because they’re both outsiders. They are both facing prejudice in very different ways.”

Meanwhile, Rupert Parker is a rich, privileged man who proposes to Eliza. To his relief, however, she turns him down because he doesn’t want to be married, only proposing under the pressure of his domineering mother Mrs Parker. “The reason why he doesn’t want to get married – as he reveals to Eliza – is he is secretly gay, something that in this period of time would destroy your life and your reputation. They bond over this and he invests in her agency,” New says.

A “mad Jane Austen fan” who also loves Charles Dickens, New was keen to create a diverse ensemble of characters, all of whom would be considered outsiders in 19th century London – whether that relates to class, gender, race or sexuality – making the series relatable to modern-day society.

“I had these characters in my head for a long time; it was like an itch I just had to scratch,” she says. “The first mission was to get it down on paper, which was the most fun I’ve ever had in my writing career, and then the second mission was to get it on screen.” She partnered with Patty Ishimoto (Rogue) at LA-based Element 8 Productions, who in turn brought in Bandidos Yanquis, 87 Films and A+E Networks International, which is also distributing.

Broadcasters airing the series include Masterpiece on PBS in the US, CBC in Canada, Seven Network in Australia, RTL Germany, OTE Cosmote TV in Greece and UKTV’s Alibi channel, which debuts the drama today, following deals with A+E International.

“It’s been a huge team effort to get this off the ground. We were a very happy, tight group, which has made it even more fun and even more special.”

Behind the camera for all six episodes is Declan O’Dwyer (Atlantis), who first met New via Skype and bought into her vision of a period drama that bucks the genre’s traditional tropes. “It’s just a great, rip-roaring adventure, but it’s grounded. Eliza is not a superhero,” O’Dwyer explains. “You invest in this character, and her adventures are a byproduct of her finding out who she is, surviving this world she’s in. That was one of the things that attracted me to the project.

“I see her as this Indiana Jones character,” he adds of Eliza. “A lot of scrapes, she only gets out of by chance or by fluke. She’s finding her way through and it’s often the mistakes that show the path forward.”

The case-of-the-week series contains lots of twists and turns, though each investigation ultimately leaves its mark on both Eliza and Duke. Storylines include a woman who claims her husband is innocent of murder, despite being found holding a bloody knife and standing over a corpse. Another sees Eliza go undercover with the suffragists women’s rights movement.

“Lots of crime shows leave me a bit cold when you could forensically take those guests stories out [and the characters wouldn’t change],” she notes. “I just wasn’t interested in that. I wanted something where the characters are invested in it. Because of that, we have lots of serial stories running through it. We have a lovely, overarching investigation over the season, which is whether her father died of natural causes or he was murdered. Then we have the lovely will-they-won’t-they story between Duke and Eliza.”

New has updated the language to avoid the series feeling “stuffy,” while the period element is further removed by a modern soundtrack that adds a new dimension to the era in the way Baz Luhrmann transformed Romeo & Juliet in 1996 or, more recently, Peaky Blinders has become the show every musician wants to lend their songs to.

Eliza’s late father, Henry Scarlet, appears in the series through flashbacks recalling his relationship with his young daughter. He is also viewed as a figment of older Eliza’s imagination, talking to her as she tries to solve cases.

“But because they’re emotionally driven, the flashbacks are not an issue,” says O’Dwyer about jumping between timelines. “They’re not just a device. There’s a reason for it and it comes from either what’s happened or what’s about to happen, so there’s a trigger. Then it becomes just a part of the story.

“Visually, it will look slightly different, but it’s quite a seamless transition. They’re not those nightmare flashbacks that are meant to jar you out of your sleep. It does move the story on. They always serve character – and if it does that, it’s a valid story device.”

A woman ahead of her time, Eliza is a mix of some of New’s favourite characters – Pride & Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet and Gone With the Wind’s Scarlett O’Hara – brought to life by Kate Phillips. “Eliza is the character I’ve always wanted to write,” she says.

Phillips says the script for episode one “was like nothing I’d ever really seen or experienced before when reading a script,” adding: “I’d never really met a character like her before. She’s so dynamic and she’s so different with every person she’s with. Excavating her and what makes her tick has been really, really fun.

“She does present as this somewhat refined Victorian lady, and I think that’s part of her. But she’s this really scrappy, feisty thing underneath, so she has to let loose. You want to see that.”

Phillips is no stranger to period dramas, having starred in Peaky Blinders, The Crown, Wolf Hall, War & Peace and the Downton Abbey movie. But one of the biggest appeals of Miss Scarlet & The Duke, was its central bunch of mismatched outcasts, with the fizzing chemistry between Eliza and Duke at its core. “There’s so much fondness there. She respects him as a detective and she’s just so eager to join in and be part of the club.”

Similarly to Phillips, Stuart Martin, who plays Duke, also has a history of starring in costume dramas, most notably Medici: Masters of Florence and Jamestown.

Playing a character from the wrong side of the tracks, Martin says Duke goes on a progressive journey during the series, accepting Eliza’s top-class detective skills and building their partnership beyond their childhood relationship.

“Eliza’s the brains and I’m the brawn,” he says, sporting a full beard that took more than a month to grow for the part. “He needs her and she needs him, that’s what’s lovely about it. They’re a crime-fighting duo. With his brawn, he’s useful in certain situations and, in the same way, with her brain and way of getting into things, they match up.”

Martin believes the first two Miss Scarlet scripts are among the best he’s ever read. “They’re so fantastically good,” he enthuses. “They’re really electric and different. The minute you start reading and think you know where it is, it just goes in a different direction. It’s very exciting.”

It the roundedness and complexity of the show’s main ensemble that makes Miss Scarlet & The Duke stand out from so many other crime procedurals, while its period setting provides a backdrop to the very modern themes and issues the characters confront across the six episodes, with New brimming with ideas for what might wait in store should it land a second season.

“These characters are all fish out of water, struggling to break barriers and survive in a world that treats them as less than they are,” she says. “Ultimately, this is a crime drama with lots of lovely comic moments. It just happens to be period.”

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Nashville gets encore on CMT

Nashville stars Hayden Panettiere (left) and Connie Britton
Nashville, which stars Hayden Panettiere (left) and Connie Britton, is moving to CMT

These days, when a network cancels a scripted show, there is often a call from the creators, the acting talent and the hardcore fanbase for someone else to step in and save it.

Usually, this plea falls on deaf ears, but there have been a few instances of shows saved from extinction by third-party channels and platforms. Among the best examples are Ripper Street, The Mindy Project and Longmire, all of which were saved by the intervention of SVoD platforms (Amazon, Hulu and Netflix respectively).

To this list of last-minute rescues we must now add country-and-western scripted series Nashville, produced by Lionsgate TV, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment. The show aired for four seasons on ABC before being cancelled last month.

However, weeks of frenetic wheeler-dealing by Lionsgate TV group president Sandra Stern has resulted in the greenlight for a fifth season, which will air on Viacom-owned country-and-western channel CMT and Hulu (which will stream episodes of Nashville the day after they appear on CMT).

“CMT heard the fans,” said CMT president Brian Philips. “The wave of love and appreciation they have unleashed for Nashville has been overwhelming. Nashville is a perfect addition to our line-up. We see our fans and ourselves in this show and we will treasure it like no other network. Nashville belongs on CMT.”

The Last Kingdom
Netflix is coproducing the second season of The Last Kingdom, replacing BBC America

Equally effusive was Craig Erwich, senior VP and head of content at Hulu. “Nashville has long been a fan favourite show on Hulu and we are so proud to continue to make new episodes available for fans to stream the day after they air. We look forward to bringing more episodes of this series to its passionate and devoted audience.”

“CMT and Hulu are the perfect combination for Nashville and we want to thank the incredible fans for their unwavering support – #Nashies, you helped make this possible,” added Kevin Beggs, chairman of the Lionsgate Television Group. “We also want to extend our appreciation to the state of Tennessee, city of Nashville, and Ryman Hospitality for their unending support.”

While the resurrection of the show has very much been presented as a victory for fan power, there’s also a strong business case for all involved.

CMT, for example, will be drooling at the show’s audience. In a press statement, the partners on season five said: “The recently wrapped fourth season of Nashville attracted more than eight million weekly viewers across all platforms and ranks as one of television’s most DVR’d series. The series is particularly strong with women 18-34. Out of more than 180 broadcast dramas since fall 2012, Nashville ranks in the top 20.”

While it’s highly unlikely that all of the ABC fanbase will follow the show to CMT, Nashville is almost certain to deliver CMT an audience that is at the upper end of its usual anticipated viewing range.

The Bureau
The Bureau is heading to Amazon

For Hulu, the risk of getting involved is minimal because it already shows Nashville and will have a good idea of the kind of audience it can expect to attract. As for Lionsgate, the deal is about much more than just the US TV market. The series airs in 82 international territories, making it a significant asset in the distribution arena.

There is also the small matter of music spin-offs. Since its launch, the show has inspired 10 soundtracks, which have collectively sold more than one million album units and more than five million single-track downloads. As an added bonus, it has been nominated for Emmy, Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards.

The question is, will we see more deals like this? Well, it seems pretty likely. With more and more cable and SVoD channels in the market for scripted content, it stands to reason that they will be attracted to franchises that have built up brand awareness.

Another story that kind of underlines this point is the news that Netflix has replaced BBC America as the US coproducer of season two of The Last Kingdom, a historical drama that also involves BBC2. For Netflix, the beauty of this deal is that it has some tangible evidence of the show’s appeal in the US (the first season aired on BBC America). Armed with that knowledge, it has secured rights to the show in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Japan, Spain and Portugal. It will also add season one of the Carnival Films-produced show to its US portfolio later this year.

Aside from these deals, this week has more of an acquisition than a production feel to it. In the UK, for example, Amazon Prime Video has acquired two French dramas – spy thriller The Bureau and political drama Baron Noir from StudioCanal. The Bureau follows agents who assume false identities as they seek out and identify targets and sources, while Baron Noir centres on a French politician seeking revenge against his political enemies.

Alibi has picked up Rosewood

StudioCanal has also sold a package of shows to SBS Australia, including The Five, Section Zéro and Baron Noir. Previously, SBS acquired Spotless and The Last Panthers from StudioCanal. Commenting, Marshall Heald, director of TV and online content at SBS Australia, said: “Gritty crime thrillers like The Five, political dramas like Baron Noir and dark sci-fi series like Section Zéro bring something fresh and exciting to our world drama slate.”

Back in the UK, UKTV-owned channel Alibi has acquired crime series Crossing Lines from StudioCanal. It has also picked up US medical crime drama Rosewood from 20th Century Fox Television.

In Canada, meanwhile, Bell Media streaming service CraveTV has acquired exclusive SVoD rights to a slate of new US broadcast dramas. Among these are the Kiefer Sutherland political thriller Designated Survivor, legal drama Notorious, film adaptation Training Day and romantic drama Time After Time. Also in Canada, specialty channel Vision TV has acquired the first season of comedy drama Agatha Raisin, which just aired on Sky1 UK.

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