Fremantle rebuilds “The Villa,” peeks “Through the Keyhole” at MIPCOM

Two British television properties have been given new leases on life through the global producer/distributor, which officially unveiled its MIPCOM slate this morning.
October 3, 2011

FremantleMedia has headed back to The Villa, the reality dating format that originated in 1999 and has enjoyed a rebirth via its recent premiere on RTL5 Netherlands.

The original format from Talent Television brought young single men and women together and housed them in a villa in the Costa Del Sol region. The contestants would be selected by computer, matched for compatibility from data regarding each contestant. By the end of the series, viewers would find out if the computer made the right guesses.

The most recent revamp of the format comes from FremantleMedia-owned Blue Circle in the Netherlands. The re-launched version won its time slot in the 20-49 demo and exceeded the broadcaster’s primetime average share by 114% for the 20-34 demo, according to FremantleMedia.

The new version also brings elements of constructed and challenge competitions reality to the party, with FremantleMedia’s acting president for worldwide entertainment, Trish Kinane, saying the new elements “give the show a bit of depth.” But as with the original, she joked, “loads of drink is poured down [the contestants] throats and you can imagine what happens.”

Another television property has a new lease on life via FremantleMedia, with British game show Through the Keyhole, originally produced by Sir David Frost’s David Paradine Productions, on the Fremantle slate. The program began as a breakfast program in 1983 and subsequently had runs on ITV, Sky 1 and the BBC. TalkbackTHAMES will produce the upcoming version.

The program takes viewers and a celebrity guest panel into the houses of assorted celebrities while not revealing the identity of the owner. Kinane, serving as acting president for worldwide entertainment while Rob Clark is on sabbatical until January, called Keyhole “one of those classic formats that works,” saying that since it was last on air a new generation of celebs, including those from the worlds of talent and constructed reality programs, will bring new blood to the reboot.

Another classic game show, The Gong Show, is getting a refresh in the form of Don’t Stop Me Now, created by Magnum Media for Sky 1. While the original U.S. program featured an array of remarkably bad entertainers “gonged” off the stage by celebrity judges, the new format sees the audience act as the judges, and if the entertainers fail to meet their standards, they are ejected from the show in myriad ways, including trap doors, and in the case of variety acts, exploding stages.

New formats being presented in Cannes from FremantleMedia include Hidden Stars, a talent show from the company’s Danish production arm Blu that features talented individuals who might never think about applying to a talent show, who are submitted by family members and friends. Body Bowling, from Fuji TV in Japan, is a physical game show in which contestants replace the balls in bowling competitions with their own bodies.

Also, Break the Safe from talkbackTHAMES brings competitive safe-cracking to television, and Hotel Stories from Globomedia takes cameras to a city hotel and documents the true-life tales that emerge from its guests.

FremantleMedia’s CEO Tony Cohen also announced that @radical.media, which does much work in the branded entertainment space, is re-opening a London office in a few months. In 2009, @radical had closed its London outpost.


About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.