Adapting International TV Series Works Best When Creating ‘Bespoke Experiences,’ BBC Studios’ Valerie Bruce Says

BBC Studios Los Angeles Productions general manager Valerie Bruce believes that adapting international TV for American audiences works best when creating “bespoke experiences” unique to the new market.

Speaking with TheWrap for this week’s Office With a View, the executive cites projects like CBS’ hit sitcom “Ghosts,” which just landed a Season 4 renewal, as a series that began in the U.K. before finding its footing in the States.

“Each project has its own unique bespoke experience,” Bruce told TheWrap. “One thing that the team is really good at doing is being able to look at a format from another territory and to look at the U.S. market and figure out: What is the entrée into the U.S. market that would make this appealing?”

Working with both creators from the original series and its adaptation, Bruce spearheads BBC Studios’ Los Angeles scripted team, which has produced several successful broadcast adaptations from British comedies, including “Ghosts,” the Mayim Bialik-led “Call Me Kat,” which ran for three seasons on Fox, and “Welcome to Flatch,” which had a two-season run on Fox. Bruce is also overseeing the upcoming adaptation of British gameshow “1% Club,” which will debut in the U.S. and Canada on Amazon Prime Video and Fox.

“‘Welcome to Flatch’ was [based] on ‘This Country’ and ‘Call Me Kat’ was [based on] ‘Miranda.’ And I think if you had the two shows side-by-side with the originals, you would be surprised to know that something was based off of the other,” Bruce said. “There’s really no formula other than having a great team of creatives that can say, ‘there’s something in this that is either gonna wholesale appeal or partially appeal to this market.'”

Beyond the studios’ current slate, Bruce noted more adaptations from U.K. series are in the works as the Los Angeles production team taps into BBC’s wide variety of scripted and unscripted series.

In addition to the above, Bruce also leads the creative team behind “Dancing With the Stars” on ABC. To hear more about her experience there and to get her advice for young people developing their careers in entertainment, read this week’s Office With a View below.

I’d love to hear a bit about the “Dancing With the Stars” casting process – what goes into casting someone who wouldn’t typically be expected on the show?
Every year [it’s about] really just looking at what is going on [and] what is relevant for the time. Some things are outside of the box; some are not necessarily outside of the box. You have to look at everything holistically. There could be a great person, but then you have to look at it as a cast for a show and be able to identify from many different angles. Sometimes you pick somebody that’s from a niche, but when you look at it in the whole, it then makes up a broader compass and that the audience can identify with.

We will always be trying to think about the audience and who the audience wants to see. Disney+ is bringing in a different audience than we had when we were on ABC, and [on] ABC, we are still wanting to serve our tried and true fans and constituents that have been along for this journey. It’s incredible to now be able to get some a younger demographic and a different demographic that watches on streaming platforms.

What is something you’ve learned from the industry that you would like to pass on to young people who are growing their career in entertainment?
Authenticity and being impeccable with your word — I very much am that way with every single aspect [of my career], whether it’s the people that I’ve worked with, or the clients [and commissioners] that we have or the talent that we have — just being your authentic self. [Being] impeccable with your word, I think, is probably the biggest lesson is — if you say you’re going to do something, then do it, and if you can’t do something for some reason, then you need to be forthcoming and say that.

What are some challenges you’ve faced in your career and how have you overcome those challenges?

Oftentimes people are put into situations where they might not have the entire skill set in order to be able to accomplish what needs to get done. I have been in that situation so many times in my career. But each time … I just used it more as a motivator to say, “OK, I’m going to figure out how to do this and to get this done.”

I’m a big believer of asking questions and never saying that you know something when you don’t … Remaining curious and, again, it goes back to authenticity — I know I’m a capable person, and I can accomplish things, but I don’t know everything. I’m going to need to figure things out. And sometimes that means asking questions [and] asking for help from somebody else.

The post Adapting International TV Series Works Best When Creating ‘Bespoke Experiences,’ BBC Studios’ Valerie Bruce Says appeared first on TheWrap.