Blue Circle’s Raul ter Linden explains how the low country continues to build on its impressive record of hitting TV’s peaks. Andy Fry reports.

The Netherlands is a core market for Fremantle’s non-scripted business, though the company’s full range of production activity in this vibrant content hub might surprise even a few industry insiders.

Best known, perhaps, are local versions of global franchises like Got Talent and The Farmer Wants A Wife.

Just as significant are Dutch originals and work on third-party megabrands like Dancing With The Stars and The Masked Singer.

The latter, which originated in Korea and became a worldwide sensation, broke ratings records for RTL4 in its first two seasons, and is now back for a third run.

“Our company oversees all Fremantle’s factual and entertainment production in The Netherlands,” says Raul ter Linden, Creative Director at Blue Circle. “Right now, I would say local development accounts for around 30-40% of our activity, and it is growing in importance.”

Several shows have secured recommissions and are starting to get picked up as formats. A good example is factual entertainment format Help! My Husband Is DIY-ing, the longest-running factual entertainment show in The Netherlands and has been licensed in other territories.

Other home-grown IPs are attracting attention, such as The Golden Brain and Ask Me Anything, a daily quiz show now in its third year on RTL4. “New titles are also coming through”, says Raul, whose pick of the crop includes B&B Of Love, Celebrity Matchmakers, Like Me, I’m Famous! and Better Than Ever – an innovative take on the world of talent shows for RTL4.

The new slate taps firmly into the zeitgeist, with celebrities and influencers playing a key role. Videoland’s Celebrity Matchmakers sees local stars having fun helping people find love, while Like Me, I’m Famous! scrutinises influencers’ real-world popularity once their access to social media networks is taken away. The latter has been sold to TV Now in Germany.

The Netherlands has always had a strong reputation for origination. It’s partly a cultural thing.

“The Dutch are renowned for their creativity and risk-taking and, at Blue Circle, we have a very clear sense of TV as an industry – how to make formats, how to distribute internationally,” says Raul.

Now is a moment of exceptional opportunity in The Netherlands!

As Fremantle expands into documentary in partnership with specialist production label No Pictures Please, “there is also growth in customers,” Raul adds. “We work for all the broadcasters, and now we are talking with seven or eight on-demand platforms who are ambitious and hungry for content.”

“The Dutch are renowned for their creativity and risk-taking and, at Blue Circle, we have a very clear sense of TV as an industry.” – Raul ter Linden, Blue Circle, The Netherlands