Totally Serialized is back for season 5

Yes, French TV meets UK TV in London in January next year for the fifth time and here are all the details:

Totally Serialized – Season 5
28-30 January 2016 at Ciné Lumière
From 28 to 30 January, Ciné Lumière will hold the 5th edition of Totally Serialized, the one and only TV series festival in London. Aiming to promote and improve collaboration between the UK and France, it will showcase the best of new productions from both sides of the Channel. Audiences will get a chance to attend exceptional preview screenings, meet creators and actors and uncover behind-the-scenes peeks.

Those last years of production have proven that TV series are more creative than ever. And more recently, the British TV industry has broken down frontiers, with international buyers moving away from a remake-centred strategy and now broadcasting the original series with subtitles. French shows such as The Returned, Witnesses, Braquo, Spiral, Hard and Maison Close from the French Pay TV channel CANAL+ have benefited from this shift, and have proven to be a success on Channel 4, FX, BBC Four and Sky Arts respectively. Just recently, BBC2 acquired Versailles, another French series.

One of the aims of the festival is to encourage this trend as well as co-productions which are also growing between the UK and France, as demonstrate successful series such as The Tunnel and The Last Panthers – both SKY/CANAL+ co-productions.

In the light of the growing demand for high quality European TV Drama, we organise an Industry dedicated programme on 28 & 29 January in association with Creative Europe Desk UK and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). Aiming to foster international exchanges and co-productions, it will explore various aspects of the constantly-evolving field of TV series, and offer various networking and speed-dating sessions.

The first day will focus on producing and financing and the second day on TV writing, in partnership with BAFTA and the Society of the Dramatic Authors and Composers (SACD).

For the opening ceremony of the Festival, we are delighted to host the World Premiere of The Tunnel: Sabotage, Series 2, episode 1, courtesy of SKY and CANAL+. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with key creatives and an Industry cocktail, organised in partnership with CANAL+.

Other highlights include an all-night marathon of all three series This is England 86, 88 and 90, attended by talents and shown on the big screen for the first time, a not to be missed treat for the fans.

French comedies are also on the menu with recent smash hit Call My Agent! directed by Cédric Klapisch (Pot Luck) and featuring an all-star cast mocking themselves, and A Very Secret Service, created by OSS 117 scriptwriter Jean-François Halin: a chauvinistic comedy show — the French missing link between James Bond and The Office.

The Festival will also feature political thrillers such as Black Baron centered on the raise for power of a French politician with Kad Merad, and The Bureau, created by Eric Rochant, a high-octane drama on the French secret services, with Mathieu Kassovitz in the lead role.

Last but not least, we invite the audience to give their views on TV series in our Café Philo and kids and families to discover the animated TV series The Long Long Holiday by the producers of Belleville Rendez-vous.

Totally Serialized is curated by Lorraine Sullivan, coordinated by Priscilla Gessati and organised by the Institut français du Royaume-Uni, in association with: the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), Creative Europe Desk UK, CANAL+, Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers (SACD), TV France International, Europe Créative Bureau France, France 24 and C21 Media.

The French Institute web site is down right now, but more information is usually available from No trailer as of yet, either, but here’s one for last year’s, as well as trailers for Black Baron (Baron noir) and A Very Secret Service. Stay tuned and there’s the possibility I might be running a competition – how exciting!


  • GYAD

    Here's the trailer for The Bureau, aka Le Bureau des Légendes:

    Nice to see an intelligent, real-world looking spy series.

  • Thanks for that – I hadn't noticed they'd come up with a trailer (my write-up in February was singularly lacking in that regard: http://www.the-medium-is-not-e…. Looks good, so hopefully it'll get picked up – Channel 4's new online thing might get it, but maybe Sky Atlantic or Sky Arts instead. BBC4 – maybe, given they've been airing on the Scandi police unit tatt of late.

  • GYAD

    Hopefully. Has there been any word on whether any UK channels will broadcast Versailles and Spotless?

    I'd have thought so but then nobody seems to have shown the French Borgia series, even though it was much better than the American version.

  • Versailles' been picked up by BBC Two for a January airing – they've even got their own mini-site up and running now:

    Weirdly, given it was a French/Brit co-prod, no UK pick-up for Spotless yet, although Esquire in the US has bought it. I think Borgia was a Netflix co-production so isn't being licensed to the UK market.

  • GYAD

    Thanks! I'm hoping it'll be good…but the last French show with a British writer was The Last Panthers which was a bit of a mess. So finger crossed…

    The Netflix connection explains Borgia. I suppose I'll have to do the same thing for Spotless which I did for Borgia then and pick it up in France.

    I have to say, although French TV is broadly terrible, at their best they far outstrip us.

  • A French TV journo friend of mine used to say that he's glad Engrenages exists because it makes Brits believe that French TV is quite good. Whereas it's largely awful – it's just Canal+ that produces some good stuff. You only have to look at what TF1 churns out every day to see that.

    But their best stuff is better than our best stuff. I'm not quite sure why. Partly a question of aesthetic, I think, than lack of talent, for the most part, since Brits who work in British TV then go off elsewhere can produce much better work than what they produce in the UK. That would suggest to me it's the commissioning infrastructure that's the problem.

    Season 2 of The Tunnel should be interesting. Season 1 had the problem that it had some great British writers who had a real sense of Kent, the English language, etc, and all their stuff was golden; all the French stuff felt like it had been written by someone who'd watched a few episodes of Engrenages and thought that gave him a good grasp of the banlieues.

  • GYAD

    Yeah, I loved the semi-parody of those TF1 type shows in Alceste à Bicyclette.

    I think the French still have a much greater core of high culture than us, which bleeds into their best dramas. The same is true in film, where they far outstrip us in quality. We've become far too influenced by the bad aspects of American drama.

    Although it helps that, as a foreigner, I can just watch the 'best of' rather than watch the day to day.

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