O, Canada! The country has a high profile at this year’s MIPCOM, with producers, broadcasters and digital companies alike descending on Cannes. Canada also provided the focus for the very first conference session today, up in the Esterel.
Virginia Mouseler from The Wit took the helm for an overview of new TV shows from Canada, based on her company’s database of “the best TV and digital content” from around the world.
First up, Canada’s Smartest Person, which first aired in March 2012. It’s a gameshow where participants take tests in six categories of intelligence – a mix of logical, physical, linguistic, musical and social skills. Viewers can play along using a website or mobile app in real-time, too.
Brand new is We Are Family, a “family singing contest” where each episode sees three families compete in a karaoke contest, coached by famous musicians. “Where the strength of family voices moves the nation” according to its blurb.
Another show: Wanted. “A new kind of dating show where you are supported by a psychologist, but also a police profiling expert to find your mate,” according to Mouseler. The idea being that they create a composite sketch and psychological profile, which is then released as a “nationwide Wanted notice” to find possible matches. At the end of the show, they pick a mate – or if they don’t, the search continues online.
Next up: Only One Knows, which started airing in January. It sees five celebrities testing their general knowledge in a quiz, but one is a “cheater” who knows all the answers. The host, other contestants and audience have to guess the cheater – and if they don’t, the cheater wins cash for charity. The audience at home can vote on who they think the cheater is too, via remote control or mobile apps.
The next show was Restaurant Takeover, which kicked off in September. It sees two restaurant industry experts – a chef and a designer – challenged to rescue a failing restaurant in six days, going undercover to find out why it’s a flop, then putting a turnaround strategy in place. The restaurant owner stumps up $15,000, the experts match it, and the makeover begins. Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares meets a home makeover show, basically.
Next: The Mistress, presented by a woman – Sarah Symonds – who claims to have been the mistress of Gordon Ramsay and Jeffrey Archer. “She’s a kind of professional mistress, which is a difficult job!” said Mouseler. The idea being that Symonds goes out and “rescues women caught in the despair of an extra-marital affair”. As in the mistresses, not the wives.
The next show was Un Sur Deux, which started airing two weeks ago in French-speaking Canada. It’s a drama: the story of a couple where the husband left his wife for three months for another woman, before coming back to try to win her heart again.
Sketch comedy? Mouseler had that too with Les Bobos. It follows a “bobo” couple – ‘bourgeois bohemians’ who are snobbish, superficial and claim to be defined by what they wear, what they know, and what they have read, seen or heard. Key sentence: “I think I just saw Rufus Wainwright!”
Saving Hope is a big-budget hospital series that has been airing in Canada and the US, with other markets to come. Set in a Toronto hospital, it tracks the working and personal lives of its doctors and staff, but there’s also a surgeon character “caught between two worlds” after a car accident – not dead yet, but roaming the hospital like a ghost.
Cracked is a gritty crime drama based on the work of an “Abnormal and Violent Crimes Unit run by an unstable police officer and a psychiatrist”. Their goal being to solve “psychologically complex crimes in a world of emotionally disturbed people”. Lots of guns and shouting. And imaginary demons.
Also quite dark was Unité 9, which sees an “educated, courageous and trustworthy” woman sent to prison after a crime committed during a family crisis. The idea being she has to figure out how to survive in prison, while meeting criminals with varying levels of violence.
Finally, Primeval New World, a spin-off from the British dinosaur drama Primeval, where a group of animal experts and scientists go to Vancouver to investigate the arrival of some toothy, prehistoric monsters. Mouseler explained that it’s been filmed entirely within Canada. “They’re back, and they’re hungry!” as the blurb puts it.