British drama goes global

Date: 24.02.2014     Last updated: 19.03.2014 at 09.30
Category: BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide sells over 670 hours of drama to Asia, Australia, Europe and Middle East.

Click to tweet: BBC Worldwide sells over 670hr of drama to Asia, Australia, Europe & Middle East ahead of #BBCWShowcase via @BBCWpress

BBC Worldwide Showcase 2014, Liverpool: A raft of British drama sales has been announced at BBC Worldwide Showcase 2014 (23 – 26th February) where 725 of the world’s top TV buyers have arrived at Liverpool to screen the best of British content.  BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, has recently sold over 670 hours of drama including Atlantis, Luther, Sherlock, Call the Midwife, Death in Paradise S3 and A Young Doctor’s Notebook amongst many others to broadcasters around the world.

The growing demand for British content in Asia has seen China become the third country, after Russia and the UK, to premiere Sherlock Series 3.  On 2nd January 2014, Youku, a prominent internet portal in China, received 49 million hits for the first episode and BesTV, the pioneer in IPTV in China, received a viewership of 1.7 million for the series in the month of January.  Japan’s WOWOW has licensed A Young Doctor’s Notebook S1, Fleming and detective series DCI Banks S3 and the state broadcaster, NHK, has bought Sherlock S3 and Unlocking Sherlock.  More British crime dramas find a home in Japan with AXN Mystery picking up Father Brown S2, Ripper Street S2 and Death in Paradise S3.  Meanwhile, KBS in South Korea has snapped up Atlantis and over in Hong Kong, A Young Doctor’s Notebook, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm, has been sold by BBC Worldwide to the main terrestrial broadcaster TVB.

“In the last five years, and more recently in Asia, we’ve seen a significant increase in sales of British drama overseas, partly fuelled by the overwhelming success of titles such as Doctor Who and Sherlock.  Buyers are realising that UK content can really provide an alternative to US fare as audiences recognise the quality of British dramas for their high production values, unique British culture and humour, as well as the creative ideas,” said Paul Dempsey, President Global Markets, BBC Worldwide.

Atlantis, BBC One’s highly acclaimed prime time series, will be broadcast in Australia on Foxtel’s FOX8 channel.  Closer to home, BBC Worldwide has sold two series of Call the Midwife to French channel D8 and has concluded major drama package deals with Italian broadcasters Mediaset and Rai.  Mediaset will be premiering Sherlock (Series 1-3), The Paradise and Call The Midwife to Italian audiences in a package which saw them buy over 200 hours of drama content from BBC Worldwide.  Elsewhere on Rai, Luther Series 1-3 will air on the main free-to-air channel in Italy for the first time along with Misfits season 5.  Portugal’s commercial channel Zon has picked up Burton and Taylor, Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond and A Young Doctor’s Notebook along with a raft of other titles totalling 22 hours while Germany’s Degeto will be airing Sherlock S3, The Challenger and Quirke.

Eastern and Central Europe and the Middle East have also been busy buying up a huge range of British content.  Russia’s Domashny channel has acquired 63 hours of drama including Ripper Street, The Paradise and Luther and BBC Worldwide has concluded its first fiction package deal with Georgia’s Imedi. 

Further south, Atlantis and Burton & Taylor have gone to Turkey’s NTV while Greek pay TV platform OTE has bought a package including all three series of Luther and Atlantis. HOT in Israel has signed up for drama titles including Fleming and Sherlock, and the Tardis travels to the Middle East as Al Jazeera Children’s Channel snaps up the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special The Day of the Doctor, Doctor Who S8 and the Doctor Who Christmas 2013 special The Time of the Doctor.

BBC Worldwide, the largest distributor of TV programming outside of the US, is launching hundreds of hours of fantastic new content, including new dramas such as The Musketeers, The Game and Orphan Black S2, at BBC Worldwide Showcase 2014 in Liverpool.  International TV buyers take up home in the 600 digi booths and will screen up to 6 to 8 hours a day of British content as well as attend premieres where the cream of on- and off-screen talent will present their new titles.  BBC Worldwide Showcase generates programme sales on behalf of the BBC and independent producers providing a major boost to British television exports.


Lee Leschasin

BBC Worldwide

Email: Tel: +44 (0)20 8433 1324

Contact BBC Worldwide Press on Twitter @bbcwpress, and join the Showcase conversation via #bbcshowcase


  • BBC Worldwide sells programmes on behalf of the BBC and independent producers
  • BBC Worldwide has around 50,000 hours of programming in its catalogue
  • With 600 digi booths available at Showcase, the average buyer screens BBC Worldwide content for 6-8 hours a day over four days
  • There will be 9 premier screenings at BBC Worldwide Showcase covering drama, natural history, music, children’s, comedy, science, history, documentaries and lifestyle



Atlantis (13x45’). A fantasy drama set in a world of legendary heroes and mythical creatures. An Urban Myth Films production for BBC Cymru Wales co-produced with BBC America.

Burton and Taylor (1x90’). Starring Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West, this captivating drama tells the tale of Hollywood’s original ‘it’ couple, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, in the twilight of their star-crossed relationship. A BBC Drama production, co-produced with BBC America.

The Musketeers is a 10x50’ witty, action-packed drama series with universal appeal combining breathtaking adventure and stunning production values from BBC Drama Production, co-produced by BBC Worldwide and BBC America.

Orphan Black, series 2 is a 10x60’ multi-award winning, original series from Temple Street Productions for BBC America and Space.

The Game (6x50’) is a stylish, edgy spy thriller set in the Cold War, where enemies and allies can’t always be separated, and espionage means getting your hands dirty. A BBC Production.

Luther, series 1-3. Crime drama series starring Idris Elba as John Luther in the Golden Globe award-winning series about the near-genius detective waging his own war on crime.. A BBC production.

DCI Banks, series 3 (3 x 90’ or 6 x 45’). Based on the novels by Peter Robinson and starring Stephen Tompkinson as Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks. A Left Bank Pictures production for ITV, distributed by BBC Worldwide.

Call the Midwife, series 3 (1 x 75’ & 8 x 50’ or 2 x 45’ & 8 x 50’). Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth and created for TV by Heidi Thomas, Call the Midwife follows nurse Jenny Lee and the midwives and nuns from Nonnatus House convent, who visit the expectant mothers of Poplar, providing the poorest women with the best possible care. A Neal Street Production for BBC co-produced with PBS.

Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor – An Adventure in Space And Time (1x90’). On 23 November 1963, a television legend began when the very first episode of Doctor Who was broadcast in the UK on BBC One. Fifty years later, An Adventure in Space and Time brings to life the story of the show’s creation and the role in its success of the first producer, director and, of course, the very first Doctor – William Hartnell. A BBC Cymru Wales Production, co-produced with BBC America.

Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor (1x60’). The Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, takes the controls of the TARDIS for the last time. A BBC Cymru Wales production.

A Young Doctor’s Notebook & Other Stories, series 2 (4x30’). Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe return to star in a second series inspired by the works of Russian novelist Mikhail Bulgakov. A Big Talk Production for Sky, distributed by BBC Worldwide.

Sherlock, series 3 (3x90’). The question on everyone’s lips is finally answered as Sherlock returns in three brand new action-packed adventures. How DID he do it? And how will John take the news that his best friend faked his own death? A Hartswood Films Production for BBC, co-produced with Masterpiece.

Unlocking Sherlock (1x60’). A one-hour special exploring how writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss created the hit television sensation. A Midnight Oil Production in association with Hartswood Films for BBC Worldwide and PBS.

Death In Paradise, series 3 (8x50’). Bringing a dose of sunshine back to the small screen, Death in Paradise returns for a third series of impossible murders on the beautiful Caribbean island of Saint Marie. A Red Planet Pictures Production in association with BBC Worldwide and Kudos Film and TV for BBC One. Produced with the support of the region of Guadaloupe.

Father Brown, series 2 (10x45’). Father Brown (Mark Williams) cycles back on screen to solve more mysteries in the sleepy village of Kembleford in this series based on the stories by G K Chesterton. A BBC Production.

Fleming – The Man Who Would Be Bond (4x45’). Starring Dominic Cooper, this action-packed drama tells the real story of Ian Fleming, the man who created James Bond. An Ecosse Films Production for Sky, co-produced with BBC America, distributed by BBC Worldwide.

The Paradise, series 2 (8x50’). Set amidst the Victorian splendour of Britain’s first department store, The Paradise is the enchanting story of a young girl who falls in love with the modern world. A BBC Production.

Ripper Street, series 2 (8x50’). The job of preventing Whitechapel from descending into hell has never been harder for Inspector Reid, Detective Drake and Captain Jackson.. A Tiger Aspect and Lookout Point Production in association with BBC Worldwide. A BBC America Co-production with the participation of Bord Scannán Na Héireann/Irish Film Board.

Misfits, Series 5 (8 x 50’). A science fiction comedy-drama about a group of young offenders sentenced to work in a community service programme, where they obtained supernatural powers after a strange electrical storm. Final series. A Clerkenwell Films production for E4, distributed by BBC Worldwide.

The Challenger (1x90’). Oscar-winning Hollywood star William Hurt (Kiss of the Spider Woman, Broadcast News, Damages) heads a stellar cast in this gripping drama about the man who helped to uncover the cause of the Challenger shuttle disaster. A BBC /Science Channel co-production in partnership with Open University

Quirke (3x90’). Set against a rich and smouldering backdrop of whiskey-soaked bars and elegant Dublin houses brimming with sexual tension, Quirke is a bold, mesmerising drama full of mystery, secrets and intrigue, starring Gabriel Byrne and Michael Gambon. A BBC Co-Production with Element Pictures and Tyrone Productions.

Silent Witness, series 17 (10x50’). Emilia Fox (The Wrong Mans, The Wipers Times) returns as Doctor Nikki Alexander in the award-winning crime drama series. A BBC production.


BBC Worldwide Limited is the main commercial arm and a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). BBC Worldwide exists to support the BBC public service mission and to maximise profits on its behalf. It does this through investing in, commercialising and showcasing content from the BBC around the world, in a way that is consistent with BBC standards and values. The business also builds the reach and reputation of the BBC brand overseas and champions British creativity.

In 2012/13, BBC Worldwide generated headline profits of £156m and headline sales of £1,116m and returned £156m to the BBC. For more detailed performance information please see our Annual Review website: