RTÉ craves Irish answer to Denmark’s ‘Borgen’

Ireland needs ‘to build up our track record’ for exportable drama, says broadcaster

Sidse Babett Knudsen as Danish prime minister Birgitte Nyborg in ‘Borgen’. Photograph: Mike Kollöffel/DR.

Sidse Babett Knudsen as Danish prime minister Birgitte Nyborg in ‘Borgen’. Photograph: Mike Kollöffel/DR.

 

Danish public-service broadcaster DR has long since moved on from Borgen, the political drama it ran on DR1 for three series between 2010 and 2013. But the legacy of Birgitte, Katrine and Kasper continues, with RTÉ director of production and acquisitions Dermot Horan hailing it as the perfect example of content that works at both home and abroad.

“Borgen is a character- based drama we can all relate to, even though it is intrinsically Danish,” Horan told last week’s MediaCon conference in Dublin’s Mansion House, noting it had recorded a 50 per cent-plus audience share in Denmark.

The success DR and other Scandinavian broadcasters have had in exporting drama – including the so-called “Scandi noir” genre – is much envied by Irish broadcasters. After Liberty Global’s purchase of TV3 goes through, RTÉ’s domestic rival is also expected to start pumping money into high-end drama that can travel.

Horan told the MediaCon audience that Ireland needed “to build up our track record” in exportable, returning drama.

At the Mipcom television marketplace event in Cannes in October, RTÉ will announce “some very large deals” that will mean it “won’t have to fund these dramas on our own any more”, he said. The deals will allow it pay for the production of its future drama projects with the aid of money from international pre-sales.

RTÉ has “a number of dramas” in development that “have legs” and could run for several series, he added.

In the meantime, Clean Break, made for RTÉ by Octagon Films and 152 Productions, will be distributed overseas by Content Media Group. The four-parter about the fallout from a kidnapping in “a small coastal community” – the distributor’s blurb doesn’t mention its Wexford setting by name – begins on RTÉ One on Sunday, September 27th.

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