The Beat ticks lots of boxes for format buyers with a high-volume, cost-effective production model that yields strippable police drama.
The original version launched on Belgian pubcaster VTM in 2014 and in year one 120 episodes had been produced. In a stripped 6.20pm slot the series generated VTM’s best daily ratings for five years with a share of about 30%.
Each half-hour instalment has three crimes, generally a serious offence such as a bank robbery, a less serious crime such as a handbag theft, and a more humorous transgression, such as a man drunk in charge of a mobility scooter.
The crimes featured are loosely based on real-life events, culled from newspapers and the internet. The writing team then summarise these for the actors playing the cops, which use these notes as a starting point, improvising much of what ends up on screen.
“They take real-life crimes and re-enact them with unknown actors,” says Andrew Sime, vice president of format sales at Zodiak Rights, which is selling the show. “Then it is, broadly, improvised and has a very naturalistic look.”
In reality, Zodiak is selling the production expertise it has amassed making the Belgian show, with the Zodiak Belgium team ready to share its skills with anyone taking the format.
A Danish version, for Kanal 5, was made as a grittier, 10x60mins series last year.
“If you look at law and order formats, there is an element of national pride and people wanting to see their own police force solve a crime,” Sime says. “We have a bank of crime stories that can be adapted, with local stories added. Then there is the fact it is so easily customised, and the economic advantage of the production model.”
Banijay Group-owned Zodiak is also selling the original version, with Belgian content travelling increasingly well, and has 170 eps of the finished version for NATPE buyers.
The show: The Beat
The producer: Zodiak Belgium
The distributor: Zodiak Rights
The broadcaster: VTM (Belgium)
The concept: High-volume constructed reality cop series that has been a big hit in Belgium