Marriage maid in television heaven


THREE BRIDESMAIDS pitted against each other to throw “the ultimate hen party” might sound like just another reality show, but Battle of the Bridesmaids, which made its debut on TV3 last night, is also the product of an Enterprise Ireland efficiency programme designed to help companies produce competitive exports.

TV3 wants the show, which offers contestants the chance to win a dream honeymoon for their newlywed friends and a €1,000 cash prize for themselves, to become the first in-house developed format that it exports to overseas television markets – a reversal of the usual process where TV3 buys in formats from abroad.

Wedding-themed lifestyle programmes have proved a popular staple of channels aimed at a female audience, such as Living, making the theme of the show a good bet.

“Bridesmaids exist in cultures the world over,” notes Fintan Maguire, head of TV3 Productions.

Under its Lean efficiency programme for companies that want to compete internationally, State agency Enterprise Ireland part-funded the services of a consultant – Gene Leonard from Lean Business Systems – to advise TV3 Productions on productivity and competitiveness.

“They have brought the Lean programme into television production for the first time. To the punter, this is just a programme, but to us, it’s part of a business plan,” says Maguire.

Lean Business Systems says it helps companies “create a culture of continuous improvement” and “identify value and waste”.

Maguire admits he was unsure at first as to how efficiency processes used by the manufacturing and software development sectors could apply to television production. “That for me was a big eye-opener.”

Three episodes of the format will air this month, while a further three are scheduled for the autumn, meaning the broadcaster will have the requisite six episodes to take to the Mipcom international television market in Cannes in October.

TV3 will be hoping that buyers in Cannes don’t respond to its format in the words of bridesmaid contestant Stephanie Dameshghi, trapped in leprechaun-themed pub crawl hell during last night’s episode despite pleas of “this just isn’t my thing”.

The broadcaster has previously sold one-off programmes such as Animal AE, which was bought by Discovery, and 24 Hours to Kill, which was sold to CBS Reality in the US and Foxtel in Australia, but says Battle of the Bridesmaids will mark its most ambitious courting of overseas to date.

“We’re not arrogant, we’re not naive,” says Maguire. “This is us dipping our toes in the water.”