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The BBC's Torin Douglas
"The UK does best in factual programmes"
 real 28k

Friday, 26 November, 1999, 05:19 GMT
British TV booms abroad
telketubies Tinky Winky, Dipsy, La La and Po are now seen in 120 countries

Britain is the second biggest exporter of prime-time television shows, according to a report on TV around the world.

The report, commissioned by Culture Secretary Chris Smith, shows that one in every eight shows sold abroad and broadcast during peak hours is UK-made.

The study, aimed at further boosting the success of home-grown shows overseas, says the biggest successes are at the quality end of the market.

vanity fair The BBC's Vanity Fair was a big hit abroad
Dramas like Vanity Fair, Cracker and Prime Suspect are among the world leaders.

But the most successful export of all is the BBC's pre-school success Teletubbies, with viewers in 120 countries following the adventures of Tinky Winky, Dispy, Laa Laa and Po.

With 13% of the prime-time market, the UK is still way behind the US, which is the world leader in selling shows abroad with 70% of the market.

But British shows are six times more successful than nearest competitors France, Germany and Australia, which make up just 2% each of the TV export market.

We need to build on this success - but not at the expense of continuing to provide a high quality service to the domestic audience
Chris Smith
The figures were far higher than many on the panel of industry figures which compiled the report, Creative Industries: UK Television Exports Inquiry, had expected.

Among the UK's hits overseas are the BBC One dramas Ballykissangel, Silent Witness and Dangerfield.

Factual shows such as The Human Body and Life Of Birds have also been worldwide hits.

The report also says that top UK shows find US buyers no matter how gritty or realistic they are.

Mr Smith said the UK TV industry deserved credit for its success in exporting programmes, but warned against complacency.

life of birds Factual programmes such as Life of Birds are popular exports
He said: "Quality is key to export success.

"Programmes made for UK audiences will sell abroad if they are good enough, and revenues from overseas sales can be invested in high quality domestic production, benefiting the UK economy and British viewers.

"We need to build on this success - but not at the expense of continuing to provide a high quality service to the domestic audience. The British viewer must come first."

The inquiry's findings came within days of UK shows dominating the International Emmy Awards, winning six of seven categories.

Among the successes were Lost For Words starring Dame Thora Hird, which was named best drama, and Channel 4's The Phil, a fly-on-the-wall account of the Philharmonia orchestra, which took the arts title.

The report says TV and film exports could be marketed together and recommends an expanded role for the British Film Office in Los Angeles to support exports in the US.

The government will respond to the report's proposals early in the new year.

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See also:
09 Apr 99 |  Entertainment
British drama 'too dark to sell'
12 Apr 98 |  World
Teletubbies take America by storm
31 May 99 |  Entertainment
TV chiefs meet to sell British shows

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