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Broadcast Now's Hottest Pick: Mayhem! The Secret Lives of the Georgian Kings

This week, our newest historical documentary Mayhem! The Secret Lives of the Georgian Kings made headlines, featuring top of the hot picks selection for Broadcast Now's unscripted category. Read their article below.

‘This was a period with piracy, class division, global power and lots of sexual scandal’

Distributor Blue Ant International Producer One Tribe TV Length 4 x 60 minutes Broadcasters Arte (France); ZDF (Germany); SBS (Australia)

Bath-based One Tribe TV continues to make the most of its history programming expertise with a third series digging into the scandalous lives of the Georgians. This time, however, there’s a twist: while Sky History greenlit its previous peeks under the powdered wigs and society balls – Wuthering Harlots and Sex And Sensibility – this series’ focus on the British royal family’s German bloodline makes it a natural fit for Arte and ZDF.

“Off the back of Sex And Sensibility, we started talking with One Tribe about the opportunity to look at the Georgian kings,” says Blue Ant International global head of acquisitions and content strategy Lilla Hurst, who developed Mayhem! Secret Lives Of The Georgian Kings with the indie’s creative team of Owen Gay and Dale Templar.

“Obviously, George III is the most well known thanks to The Madness Of King George, but they all have fascinating stories,” says Hurst.

“Last year was very tough for both UK producers and broadcasters, and we realised this was something we didn’t have to engineer in the UK. As channels keep tightening their belts, hopefully having a history series with great production values up for acquisition will be a godsend [for buyers].”

Blue Ant, which has co-produced and distributed all three titles – as well as One Tribe’s recent Sky series Sex: A Bonkers History, fronted by Amanda Holden and Dan Jones – is selling Mayhem! internationally as a four-hour English-language series.

Australian public broadcaster SBS, which part-funded the series, will air this version, while Arte and ZDF are reversioning and redubbing it into a 2 x 90-minute series with dialoguefree drama scenes.

Presenter-less, the series divides into roughly 40% drama recreations and 30% talking-head testimonies from experts including historian Madeleine Pelling, with the remainder scene-setting and imagery.

The narrative is arguably more Succession than Bridgerton, with the dysfunctional ruling dynasty’s scandals, feuds, backstabbing and family betrayals shaping a whole era and resonating down the centuries.

As Hurst points out: “Under George I, the powers of the monarchy properly diminished and it was really the beginning of the transition to the modern system of a cabinet government led by a prime minister.

“This was a period with piracy, class division, global power and lots of sexual scandal, and the kings were often at the centre of that. They lived really quite outrageously. I think it makes for great TV, but it’s also just a fascinating period of history.”

Outside of history, One Tribe has a strong natural history footprint, with titles such as The Emerald Isles and Wonders Of The Celtic Deep, and also delivers outside broadcasts and inserts for The One Show.

But this heady cocktail of royalty, sex and decadence makes for accessible and lively history, and Hurst is confident that for the producer, distributor and German broadcasters, this could be the start of something special.

Admiring the indie’s “limitless energy and optimism”, Hurst says: “There’s a lot of trust involved in working with a German commissioner for the first time, and One Tribe has been cognisant that what ZDF needs is different from a British broadcaster. It understands that this is hopefully a long-term relationship.”

See the other productions that made the hot picks here.


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