In a short time, Amsterdam’s Lineup Industries has developed a reputation as a distribution company with an eye for unusual, thought-provoking formats such as The Bully Project. Denmark vs Eastern Europe is the latest in that vein, putting prejudices about immigration under the microscope.
“It’s a social experiment that taps into all that you read about in the newspapers about Eastern Europeans ‘taking local jobs’,” says Lineup co-founder Ed Louwerse. “It’s something quite explosive.”
The fixed-rig format first aims to find out whether local or foreign labourers do better building jobs, the twist being that though both sides know they are in a social experiment, they do not know they are competing against another, entirely foreign crew.
On TV2 in Denmark, the teams built a home for a real-life customer, with their skills pushed to the limits by secret obstructions, incorrectly delivered materials and annoying neighbour visits. Fixed cameras caught their natural behaviours and reactions, with cutaway interviews expressing their opinions before and after the build.
Two construction experts then performed “blind” assessments, comparing the workers on efficiency, price, work environment and customer satisfaction. Louwerse, who found the format through an relationship with Danish prodco STV Production, says the series caused a national conversation right up until it went to air on January 12. “This is a format that creates debate, exactly like The Bully Project,” he says.
He adds that while there were only two episodes in Denmark, negotiations to expand the format into cleaning are under way. “Initially, we are looking at selling the construction element, but we have to be flexible because some countries just don’t have the budgets to do that,” he says.
In Denmark, episode one took a 35% share of 20-60s, and episode two increase that to a record 43%. The TV2 slot average is 25% to 27%.
The show: Denmark vs Eastern Europe
The producer: STV Production
The distributor: Lineup Industries
The broadcaster: TV2 (Denmark)
The concept: Fixed-rig, social experiment format born out of the European immigration debate