Drive | Diana anniversary sparks global clamour for docs
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Diana anniversary sparks global clamour for docs

A slew of Princess Diana documentaries are travelling around the world – 20 years after her death.

 

International broadcasters including Australia’s Seven Network and Canada’s CBC have acquired ITV doc Diana, Our Mother: Her Life And Legacy, which features princes William and Harry opening up for the first time about their mother’s death.

The broadcasters, which also include NRK in Norway, TV2 in Denmark, NDR in Germany, TV4 in Sweden, Mediaset in Italy and RTL in French-speaking Belgium, acquired the one-off film from distributor Drive.

The 60-minute Oxford Film-produced doc won an audience of 7 million (33.2%) for ITV at 9pm on Monday, more than doubling the channel’s 2.7 million (13.5%) slot average.

It was picked up by HBO in May – a rare deal for the Time Warner-owned premium cable network, which aired it in line with ITV.

Drive co-founder Ben Barrett told Broadcast: “Normally, with natural history, science or engineering, we would be targeting specific broadcasters in specific territories, but with this, we genuinely felt there would be interest from many territories.

“We’re now working on a sale in Japan and other sales across Asia and Latin America. Most countries will ultimately air this film.”

Both Barrett and Nick Kent, creative director of Oxford Film, spoke extensively with SVoD platforms about a potential deal, but felt the film would have the widest reach via public and free-to- air broadcasters.

“The princes said they wanted it to have as wide an audience as possible,” said Kent, who was in New York for the HBO premiere.

The film follows Channel 5’s 90-minute doc Diana: 7 Days That Shook The Windsors, which aired in May, and is among a raft of docs about the princess airing in the UK this summer.

Others include Sandpaper Films’ Diana (w/t) for BBC1, which is being distributed by BBC Worldwide, Kaboom Film & TV’s Diana: In Her Own Words for Channel 4 and Finestripe’s Diana: The Day The World Cried for ITV.

Cineflix Rights is distributing the latter and chief executive Chris Bonney said the industry has “raised its game” in producing anniversary-driven docs.

“It’s an opportunity now for broadcasters to build them into events that provide talking points,” said Bonney. “The skill in these big stories is finding access that gives a fresh perspective and tells it in an authoritative way.”

The Day The World Cried focuses on Diana’s funeral and those who planned it, such as chief architect Malcolm Ross. It is the only film permitted to use Elton John’s tribute song Candle In The Wind 1997.

The film has so far been pre-sold to a US broadcaster and sales have been secured in Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, and widely across Asia and the Middle East.

“Diana is unique – there is no question,” said Bonney. “She connected with the British population, but also the world.”

Oxford Film’s Kent added that international interest in the British royal family is “not an accident” and has been helped in recent years by the Queen’s involvement in the 2012 London Olympics and

Prince Harry’s viral video for the Invictus Games. “The royal family is not something that is static,” said Kent. “It speaks to the skill and dexterity with which the monarchy keeps itself relevant.”

 

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