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A&E Networks bypasses ‘X-Files’ and ‘The Last Panther’ for city shot drama

One of North America’s leading television networks has snapped up the Armagh-filmed ‘Frankenstein Chronicles’ this week – giving hopes of an economic and tourism boost to the district after airing.

As Armagh I exclusively revealed in July, the show -a reimagining of Mary Shelley’s gothic horror, starring Sean Bean and featuring much of our beautiful city as a backdrop – was to be offered for sale worldwide, giving a huge potential global audience.

And that potential has not only been realised but exceeded all expectations!

This week, MIPCOM – the TV industry’s premiere ‘buying’ event in Cannes in France – welcomed a record number of over 13,700 delegates from 108 countries.

That included more than 4,800 acquisition executives, including the Arts & Entertainment Networks – or A&E for short.frankenstein

Highlights included the unveiling by Sky Atlantic/Canal Plus of the hugely anticipated ‘The Last Panther’.

And the world premiere of ‘The X-Files’ reboot was also met with huge interest.

But A&E – which is headquartered in New York and tags itself with the catchline ‘Be Original’ – bypassed all in favour of the Frankenstein Chronicles.

Elaine Frontain Bryant, A&E’s executive vice-president of programming said: “The Frankenstein Chronicles uniquely merges classic elements from both the crime and horror genres which pairs perfectly with A&E’s growing scripted slate.

“We’re excited to be partnering with Endemol Shine to bring this intriguing and sophisticated series to American audiences.”

The American cable and satellite TV channel broadcasts coast to coast in the United States and across Canada.

In fact, it now reaches close to one billion homes (96 million if you want to be precise!).

It boasts of being home to quality original content that inspires and challenges audiences to ‘Be Original’, and serves up a diverse mix of what is describes as “uniquely immersive entertainment”. Offerings include ‘Bates Motel’, ‘Damien’, ‘Duck Dynasty’, ‘Wahlburgers’ and ‘Storage Wars’.

Depending on the popularity of the show – and it is already being hotly tipped – such a major coup could provide a fantastic spin-off.

A MIPCOM source told Armagh I: “This event is in its 31st year and every year it’s a who’s who and what’s hot and what’s not of TV. Shows can be made or broken here. It really is that simple.

“A big backer on board, willing to spend this amount of money on your show, shows real faith. If you hook the right audience the potential is huge. Fans very often want to visit sets, want to see the locations. It’s not all about the drama and what’s there, it’s about everything, the whole package.

“If people like what they see then that’s a result. The potential is huge. Look at Game of Thrones and how popular that is. Viewers want to go, they want to see it up close and personal. There’s a whole other industry beyond what’s just on people’s TVs. And if people can tap into that then that’s great.”

The acquisition by A&E will also give hope that the Frankenstein Chronicles could see a second series commissioned.

And, if that happens, it would be hoped that filming would return to Armagh.

In addition to Sean Bean, the Frankenstein Chronicles also stars Anna Maxwell Martin, Charlie Creed-Miles, Steven Berkoff and Samuel West, in a series comprising six one-hour episodes.

In July, the six-part drama was acquired by the French pay TV Canal Plus from Endemol Shine International.

But this news from MIPCOM this week catapults it on to that global stage.

ITV, meanwhile, has no confirmed date as yet for screening here, but confirmed to Armagh I in August it was “now scheduled for late autumn 2015”.

Shooting for the Frankenstein Chronicles started in Belfast in January before moving on to Armagh, where various locations featured, including Russell Street, Vicar’s Hill, Armagh Courthouse, Armagh Gaol and Gosford Forest Park.

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