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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 May, 2003, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Russia buys Dr Zhivago drama
Dr Zhivago
Keira Knightley and Hans Matheson starred in the mini-series
Russian TV has bought a lavish adaptation of Boris Pasternak's Dr Zhivago, a novel which caused much controversy in the author's native country.

The ITV mini-series was considered a great success when it aired in the UK in 2002, with more than six million viewers tuning in to the complex love story set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution.

Russia's Channel One has been given permission to screen the series by Pasternak's surviving relatives who hold the rights to his work, reports the Guardian newspaper.

The family agreed to it being screened on the condition they could take part in a TV disussion afterwards.

Dr Zhivago, first published in the West in 1958, was banned in Russia for more than three decades for upsetting communist sensitivities.

Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958 but had to turn it down because of protests in his home country.

Rare import

Doctor Zhivago was not published in Russia until 1988 and Pasternak was posthumously recognised for writing a masterpiece. He died in 1960.

Starring Sam Neil and Keira Knightley, the TV drama cost 8.5m and was funded with money from Britain, Germany, Italy and the US.

Russia is not known for pouring money into programme buying but rare British imports have included Agatha Christie and Poirot thrillers.

"The [Zhivago deal] is one of the first sales of British drama into the former Soviet Union, post-perestroika. Previously the market operated largely on a barter basis, but it is now a strongly emerging market," Nadine Nohr, managing director of Granada International, told the Guardian.

"The deal with Channel One is a very good one, but it couldn't have been struck without the approval of the Pasternak estate."


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