Simon Cowell’s ‘Walk The Line’ Exec Says Several Territories Are Interested In Format; Praises Korean Shows For “Ripping up The Rulebook”

Walk The Line

EXCLUSIVE: Simon Cowell’s ITV format Walk The Line has started attracting interest from global buyers, according to exec producer Lee McNicholas, who praised South Korean entertainment shows for “ripping up the rulebook” and “forcing us to re-examine the way we approach formats.” Distributor ITV Studios Global Entertainment is in conversation with several territories over the sale of the six-parter, McNicholas said.

The show represents ITV’s latest big entertainment bet and will be stripped across next week, with the Syco Entertainment/ITV Studios-backed Lifted Entertainment offering launching as I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! closes on Sunday night.

South Korean hits such as The Masked Singer, The Masked Dancer and  I Can See Your Voice have all been remade by British networks of late and there has been growing concern that the trend will have a damaging impact on homegrown creativity in a nation that has produced the likes of I’m A Celebrity, Love Island and Lego Masters. The Times also reported this week that the BBC is piloting Thai physical game show Block Out as a successor to Total Wipeout.

Speaking exclusively to Deadline, Walk The Line’s McNicholas stressed that the UK “has always been and remains the world leader in TV formats” and said conversations have begun with other territories prior to UK premiere.

“There are a lot of imports on our screens right now but we feel confident that creativity is still strong in the UK,” he added. “Walk the Line does have international appeal so we’re hoping this homegrown format can follow in the footsteps of some of our previous successes.”

He said the big Korean formats have resonated with audiences due to their “ripping up the rulebook when it comes to what people expect,” adding: “I think these shows have encouraged a huge amount of creative thinking in our businesses and have forced us all to re-examine the way we approach formats in an exciting way.”

Speaking to Deadline last week, Banijay Global Head of Content Operations Lucas Green said The Masked Singer has “proved that international formats can work in the UK.”

“The gamble”

The genre-bending Walk The Line will see budding singers take to the stage to perform for a group of judges. They will then need to decide whether to cash out or physically ‘walk the line,’ with £500,000 ($660,000) up for grabs if they hold on.

“At the heart of Walk The Line is this gamble that the contestants have to take at the end of the show,” added McNicholas. “We’re asking them to bet on their own talent, watching them make these huge decisions with a potentially life-changing sum of money on offer.”

Glow Up’s Maya Jama is hosting and judges are Gary Barlow, Alesha Dixon, Dawn French and Craig David but not Cowell, who was initially supposed to be appearing on screen 15 months after he broke his back falling off an E-bike.

McNicholas stressed that the show remains “Simon’s baby” and Cowell has been “working tirelessly off screen.”

He said Jama and the crop of judges have diverse areas of expertise and should “appeal to as broad an audience as possible.”


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