The stakes are always high on television. It’s expensive to make, and as recent Netflix news has shown, people can cancel subscriptions in a heartbeat. But when it comes to remaking a beloved program in another country, they’re a bit higher. For better or worse, when a show does phenomenally well in its home turf, TV executives start scratching their fingers and surveying a map of the world. The rights to the show could be sold to networks overseas – like Frasier repeating itself endlessly on Channel 4 in the UK, to pick an old-school example – but what if? they could do better? What if another country was so in love with a show that they wanted to buy the concept and remake it themselves?
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One of the most popular French shows of recent years is Dix Pour Cent by France Télévisions, a comedy about the frenetic world of Parisian show business agents. Exploring a world brimming with gossip, power games and romance, the show became a hit in France. Its episodes, which could oscillate between wacky miscommunication and touching drama, also featured cameos from famous actors as various agency clients. Jean Reno, Jean Dujardin and even Sigourney Weaver are among the many stars who have signed up to play themselves.
Seeing its popularity, Netflix bought it in 2015, renamed it Call My Agent!, and raised the profile of its core cast – Camille Cottin, Grégory Montel, Thibault de Montalembert and Fanny Sidney in particular – who, to his tour, raised the show’s profile overseas. Audiences in the UK and US have fallen in love with its stylish, perhaps stereotypical French beats, as have other countries: half a dozen remakes are in the works. These include a UK remake, confusingly called Ten Per Cent rather than Call My Agent!, which will premiere on Amazon this week. Set in London, it will not only be judged on its own merits, but will be compared to the show from which it is translated. Will the comedy translate? Will it be too French? Too English? Not enough English? Not French enough?