How long have you been interested in Nordic TV drama and what type of shows are you looking for?
Since Arte's inception, we have on-going relationships with Nordic broadcaster and distributors, in particular with public broadcasters in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. We keep an eye on their new programmes as they go into production. Over the last three-four years, we've noticed a true originality in the making and themes of those programmes, which has triggered our curiosity even more. Naturally the growing popularity on a global scale of Nordic crime literature has also been a key factor and we follow carefully each new film and TV adaptation as part of this Nordic noir trend.
What makes Nordic TV drama stand out?
Usually Nordic TV series are very well written and directed. They have this European ‘touch' that makes them closer to us culturally than US shows - that tend to be more predictable and stereotyped - although they still feel a bit exotic with their Northern setting and landscapes. Also, Nordic TV drama takes its time. For a while, that was a deterrent for more commercially-oriented broadcasters, but this trend is starting to change. Canal +, France Television and M6 in France are now keener on Nordic TV drama, as well as major US networks that are even acquiring remake rights for series such as The Killing and Borgen.
So far what Nordic TV drama have been the most successful on Arte France?
Our Nordic Drama offering on Arte is still quite recent, and we started by ‘cheating' a bit with the UK Wallander series starring Kenneth Branagh, that was produced by the BBC. It was a major hit on Arte France and Germany (Best audience 2011 across all genres for a film from the Wallander series). For the moment, our biggest Nordic hit series is The Killing but we expect a lot from our upcoming acquisitions.
What are your most recent Nordic pick-ups?
DR's series Borgen just started airing on Arte and was carried by a heavy promotional campaign. In March we will have SVT's series Inspector Winter based on Åke Edwardson's novels, published in France and in Germany and later in 2012 Borgen Season 2. In 2013, we will premiere the Danish crime series Those Who Kill, SVT's sci-fi series Real Humans and NRK's mobster dramedy Lilyhammer presented by German Arte. Other series will follow as we're still negotiating several acquisitions or pre-buys.
Is the current success of Nordic TV series going to encourage Arte to increase its co-productions with Nordic partners?
It is the quality of each show rather than the overall success of Nordic TV drama that will encourage us to increase our co-productions. Quality has always been a priority for Arte, not genre, even if the trend is a money spinner. We have no intention to exploit that trend just for the sake of it. Because of our close relationships with our Nordic partners, we're constantly being offered projects or programmes, but we only select those that are really interesting for us.