MIPFormats ’14: New shows highlight travel, romance, hidden cameras

Fresh factual and reality formats featured in Cannes include everything from romantic counselling from a former porn star, to hidden cameras in taxis that capture the pulse of a nation on current affairs. (Pictured: Independent Pictures' Taxi, distributed as the format Voice of The Nation by Nordic World)
April 6, 2014

New formats highlighted at MIPFormats in Cannes this weekend include everything from a former porn star turned relationship counsellor (courtesy of Italy’s Rocco to the Rescue) to hidden cameras in taxis that capture the pulse of a nation on current affairs (Voice of a Nation, or Taxi, as it’s known in its home country of Ireland.)

A slew of recent international format hits was on tap during the annual round-up of “Fresh Factual and Reality Formats,” presented by TV consultancy The Wit on Sunday (April 6) at MIPFormats. Romantic lifestyle formats figured prominently, with several spotlighted during the session, including two from Banijay International that recently aired in Denmark: My Week, Your Week and The 7 Weddings.

In My Week, Your Week, couples that need a romantic boost participate by having one partner make all the decisions for the couple – ranging from household chores to sex – during one week, and the other partner getting the same opportunity the following week. At the end of the two-week experiment, the couples have to decide if they’ve learned more about each other and how to maintain and even strengthen their relationships.

Meanwhile, The 7 Weddings, produced by for TV2, is an ambitious ob-doc format that follows seven couples over the span of seven years, from their wedding receptions onwards, to chart their ups and downs and find out what it takes to make a marriage last through the dreaded “seven year itch.”

Also on the romantic front, the presentation offered up Family, a format from Ukraine distributed by 1+1 Media, in which two single people accept to have a “blind wedding” in order to test the values held by different cultures. From Italy, meanwhile, comes Rocco to the Rescue, hosted by former Italian porn star Rocco Siffredi, distributed by Verve Media, and not to be confused with the A&E lifestyle series from several years back starring chef Rocco DiSpirito. In the Italian program, which ran on Cielo in Italy, Siffredi comes to the aid of couples in need of erotic intervention.

Travel also factored into The Wit’s choices of fresh formats, and Irish formats figured prominently in this and other areas. Whose Holiday Is It Anyway? is a Coco Television production from RTE1′s Format Farm initiative, distributed internationally by DRG. In the series, parents hand over control of their family holiday plans – ranging from booking hotels to planning flights, packing bags and then scheduling activities – to their kids to see how they fare, with the option of “taking back” the holiday on the final day.

Two other travel-related formats from Ireland were featured, including Away with a Stranger, produced by WAKA TV, distributed by Nordic World, and also part of RTE’s Format Farm. The program sees four participants who don’t know each other agree to go on vacation together, with each person planning the activities for one day of the holiday. The participant who scores the highest amongst the travel mates with his or her day gets to take another vacation with their actual friends.

Meanwhile, Class Swap, distributed by RTE Television, takes three groups of school students and three teachers to different countries, where they attend local schools and attempt to assimilate to their new environments. The original RTE program was produced by Esras Films.

Other buzz-worthy international formats that were featured in The Wit’s session, and in a session conducted by Nordic World on Saturday that featured new additions to its slate, included The Voice of a Nation, yet another Irish format that originally aired as Taxi (pictured) on RTE 1. In this format, distributed by Nordic World, taxi cabs in three different cities of one country are outfitted with hidden cameras for seven days, with conversations about the hot topics of the week between drivers and passengers captured by the fixed rigs. Fast turnaround production keeps the program current, and the commentary, relevant.

Meanwhile, from France, highly adaptable for any country, and distributed by Upside Television, My Life Made In… follows a host as he or she tries to only consume products made in his or her own country for an entire year. The 90-minute My Life Made in France program recently scored record ratings for its slot on Canal+, and saw its host, journalist Benjamin Carle, toss out everything from HP sauce to his David Bowie CDs in order to live 100% French.

Also from Ireland, and distributed by Nordic World, are Craftmaster, from Big Mountain Productions, in which six craft-makers go head to head competing for a spot in the country’s largest international trade fair; and Guerrilla Gourmet, produced by Loosehorse Television, in which top chefs create pop-up restaurants in unique environments such as circuses, boxing clubs and hospitals.

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