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ABC keen to sell Sleuth 101 format

Sleuth 101

According to executive producer Bruce Kane, the public broadcaster sees its new mystery/game show hybrid as a highly ‘formattable’, sellable product.

“They’re very interested in this one; they seem to be keen to [sell the format]. We [Mayhem TV] control it in conjunction with the ABC, but they represent it,” Kane told Encore.

Although a number of ABC-made and represented shows have been sold as formats to be remade in other territories (e.g. the comedy Mother and Son, Zapruder’s Other Fims’ The Gruen Transfer), the public broadcaster has not traditionally seen format sales as a priority. Kane believes that is starting to change.

“There’s no reluctance from them to do it, but it’s not something that they have done in a commercial sense. They seem to be keen to do it now, in recent times,” he said.

Sleuth 101 starts tonight on ABC1, and it combines a dramatised murder with a studio whodunit, with Cal Wilson hosting and renowned comedians serving as guest ‘detectives’.

The project was developed by series producer Anthony Watt and Bruce Kane at Mayhem TV; the same team behind production of the successful Spicks and Specks.

“But Spicks and Specks was created internally, so it’s an ABC show. There have been many enquiries about the format, interest from the US, the UK and Latin America, but whether they choose to sell it as a format or not is really an ABC thing,” he added.

Sleuth 101 is not a game show in the traditional sense of the word, because it is not open to audience participation. Kane said developing a game show is difficult at the ABC because of its editorial policies.

“It’s hard because you can’t give things away, so people have to play it just for the laugh, and there are only so many of those shows you can make,” he said.

That is why both Spicks and Specks and Sleuth 101 have been developed as hybrids, and the success of the former has puzzled overseas practitioners.

“With Spicks and Specks, particularly in the US, they can’t believe that show would work without giving a huge prize away,” said Kane.

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