Canadian produced and coproduced historical dramas, most notably Vikings , The Borgias  and Pillars of the Earth , are sold in markets around the world and perform well in Canada as well as internationally. Figures from Eurodata TV Worldwide , which analyses and distributes programming and audience information, indicate that international audiences turn their attention to historical dramas produced by Canadians during prime time hours.
Canada is celebrating successful historical dramas like Murdoch Mysteries  and featuring new productions The Book of Negroes  and Le Berceau des anges  at MIPCOM , the world’s leading entertainment content market, which takes place in Cannes from October 13 to 16, 2014.
“Canadian content continues to connect with audiences, both at home and abroad,” says Valerie Creighton, President and CEO, Canada Media Fund . “It stands shoulder to shoulder with other productions and the world is turning its eye on Canada for its ability to tell compelling stories about our past. We remain committed to working with content creators to support captivating content and promote our industry to the world at events like MIPCOM.”
Carolle Brabant, Telefilm Canada ‘s Executive Director, added: “It’s clear that our country has the talent to tell compelling stories that touch audiences around the world. Promotion and marketing on all platforms hold the key to increasing the reach of our product. Every time homegrown content is shown on the big screen, broadcast on television or made available on digital platforms, we have incredible opportunities to promote Canadian creativity, not only at home but abroad as well. We’re pleased to partner with the Canada Media Fund to spotlight great Canadian talent and productions at MIPCOM 2014.”
Historical dramas on the international stage
Directed by Clement Virgo and produced by Damon D’Oliveira, The Book of Negroes will premiere at MIPCOM on October 13, 2014. Based on the internationally acclaimed novel by Canadian author Lawrence Hill, the six-part miniseries is coproduced by Conquering Lion Pictures (Canada) and Out of Africa Entertainment (South Africa). It recounts the story of an African woman named Aminata Diallo who is kidnapped from Africa and sold into slavery in the southern U.S. She later makes her way to Halifax and back to Africa and finally, to England at the turn of the 19th century. The cast includes Aunjanue Ellis, two Oscar winners Louis Gossett, Jr. and Cuba Gooding, Jr., as well as Jane Alexander and Ben Chaplin.
Murdoch Mysteries (Shaftesbury) is celebrating its 100th episode in 2014. Lead cast member, Yannick Bisson, will be in Cannes to mark the occasion. The series consistently stands out as the highest rated drama on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) with an average audience of 1,238,000 in 2012-2013. Audiences across 110 countries including China, France, the United Kingdom, and the USA enjoy watching the adventures of Murdoch, a handsome young detective using radical forensic techniques for the time to solve some of Toronto’s most gruesome murders.
Set in the 1950s, Le Berceau des anges portrays the sale of illegitimate babies to Jewish New York families at the height of the baby boom phenomenon and when adoption laws in the United States were strict. Directed by Ricardo Trogi, the miniseries airing on Séries+ as of January 2015 includes the following cast: Marianne Fortier, Sébastien Delorme, Isabelle Roy, Gildor Roy and Ève Duranceau.
Historical dramas not a thing of the past
In addition to these historical dramas being featured at MIPCOM, Canada has a solid track record of productions that are acquired by different territories and appeal to wide audiences.
In two short years, Vikings, a coproduction between Canada and Ireland, captured the attention of audiences from over 40 countries including Australia, Iceland, and Finland. Broadcast on the History Channel in the USA, the first season of Vikings obtained an average audience market share of 5.3% compared to the network’s average 1.8%. In Finland, the series’ average audience market share in the coveted 25-44 age category was 97% above the average for the network.
There are other recent examples of Canadian successes that are still broadcast in countries around the globe.
The Borgias, a Hungary, Ireland, and Canada coproduction, attained an average audience market share of 52% above D8’s (broadcaster) regular line-up in France. In addition to captivating a dedicated French audience, the show has also been sold to more than 45 countries including China, Japan, and New Zealand. Over the years, the series has garnered three Emmys as well as numerous Canadian Screen Awards.1
The Canada Germany coproduction, Pillars of the Earth, gained a strong audience base in Germany as well as Spain. With an average audience of close to 7 million in Germany, and 4 million in Spain, the miniseries performed with an average audience market share of 20.7% compared to 7.6% for SAT.1 (broadcaster) in Germany. The miniseries won an Emmy and three Geminis (now the Canadian Screen Awards).
Canada will be well represented at MIPCOM 2014, with Canadian talent highlighted at several events and Canadian stars will also make red carpet appearances at Cannes. Guests will include the director, one of the producers and stars of The Book of Negroes. Yannick Bisson, star of Murdoch Mysteries, will also be on hand to represent his TV show, broadcast in 110 countries and now in its eighth season and 100th episode. Michelle Alexander (Beauty and the Beast) of Darknet, a Canadian horror series, will also be at the gala. Also present will be Ricardo Trogi (1981, 1987) and actors Marianne Fortier (Aurore) and Sébastien Delorme (La petite reine) from the miniseries Le Berceau des anges. Finally, Toronto illusionist Zack Mirza and Quebec hypnotist extraordinaire Messmer will both walk the red carpet to represent the productions they’ll be starring in: Illusions of Grandeur and Hyp-Gags with Messmer.
In addition, 65 Canadian production and distribution companies will exhibit at the Canada Pavilion—one of the largest national stands at the Market, and on October 11, Canada will present six original multiplatform productions during a screening at MIPJunior, the youth-content market held just ahead of MIPCOM. The shows Les Argonautes, Camp Lakebottom, Dino Dan: Trek’s Adventures, Guardians Evolution, The Stanley Dynamic and Time Tremors (a Canada-Australia co-production) will be presented by Valerie Creighton, CMF President and CEO.
On October 14, Damon D’Oliveira, executive producer, and Clement Virgo, director and co-writer (The Book of Negroes); Christina Jennings, executive producer, Smokebomb Entertainment/Shaftesbury, and Yannick Bisson, lead actor, executive producer and director (Murdoch Mysteries); and Sally Catto, general manager, programming, CBC Television, will take part in The Showrunners Masterclass panel.
The Canada Pavilion , which is coordinated by Telefilm Canada, is funded this year by the Canada Media Fund, Creative BC , the Canadian Media Production Association , Manitoba Film and Music  and Film and Creative Industries Nova Scotia  and will host 65 Canadian companies representing 150 delegates. The Pavilion will also host close to 300 people, delegates from Canada and elsewhere, at a networking activity on Tuesday, October 14.
The social media hashtags to use throughout the event will be #canadamipcom and #eyeoncanada.
1Sources: Average of the first season compared to the average of the channel on similar timeslot. Eurodata TV Worldwide / Finnpanel Oy (Finland) / Nielsen (United States) / Médiamétrie (France) / GfK Fernsehforschung (Germany) / Kantar Media (Spain)