In October 2012, for the very first time ever, Lebanon will get its own version of the global hit programme Dancing with the Stars, with the show being locally produced for Murr Television (MTV).
On the surface, this might not seem like such momentous news; after all, named the world’s most successful reality TV format by the Guinness Book of World Records 2010, Dancing with the Stars is already licensed into 42 countries from Australia to the USA. Yet this latest deal is the result of nearly two years of hard work and marks the first time the format will be produced in the Arab world.
Ever since Strictly Come Dancing took to the air on BBC One in 2004, audiences around the world have been captivated by the heady combination of celebrity, dance, glamour and competition. The local versions are licensed to international broadcasters by BBC Worldwide’s Format Licensing team. As a member of this team, one of my responsibilities is to look after our formats business in the Middle East region.
Dancing with the Stars is a format that needs no introduction; in the Arab world, however, there are unique cultural sensitivities that made it difficult to persuade broadcasters to produce a local version with local stars.
Since joining BBC Worldwide in 2010, I have had numerous discussions with several broadcast partners and production companies throughout the Middle East to bring this wonderful show to the region. I decided the way forward was to first find a production company which had the expertise, skill and experience required to produce a quality show of this scale and found a partner in the Lebanese producer Iprod.
I then looked for a broadcaster who was willing to invest the time and resources to make Dancing with the Stars a television event for their audience and MTV Lebanon came forward as the company to do this. MTV has negotiated a two-season commitment to Dancing with the Stars, starting this Autumn.
The Lebanese version of Dancing with the Stars will go to air nearly two years after I started the conversation. It’s taken a long time, but I know it will be worth the wait. I look forward to seeing it on air on MTV and throughout the rest of the region in the coming years.