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Irish Times Article: RTÉ sells ‘Garda Down Under’ to Australian television network Nine

Ciaran Cleary (left) and Joe Connolly from RTÉ’s ‘Garda Down Under’

An RTÉ series about life on the beat for Irish police officers in the world’s largest police district, Western Australia, has been sold to Australia’s Nine Network.

Garda Down Under follows seven former gardaí who have been recruited by the government of Western Australia to help police a state with a rapidly growing population and a land mass that is 30 times the size of the island of Ireland.

Nine, Australia’s second most-watched channel, has picked up the six-part series after RTÉ Global received interest from more than one Australian network in the show.

RTÉ Global head of sales Edel Edwards said it was hoped that Australian broadcasters would be keen to acquire the series, but that “there was no guarantee that they would”.

Due to the distances involved, Western Australia is “almost another country” for many people living in the more populous states of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. The Nine Network has bought the series because they believe viewers across the country “are keen to see what life is like there too”, she said.

Separately, RTÉ has also sold a number of other lifestyle and religious programmes to Australia. Public broadcaster ABC has bought some episodes of Gay Byrne’s The Meaning of Life and a Would You Believe special called Pope Francis: The Sinner.

The pay-TV Foxtel network has bought Kitchen Hero: Feast and Room to Improve to show on one of its lifestyle channels, while SBS has bought the factual one-off Sugar Crash and the three-part 1916 documentary series.

“We have very good relationships with a lot of the Australian broadcasters,” says Edwards. “We have a well-established commercial history with them.”

Interest in early episodes of Room to Improve bodes well, she adds, as the home renovation show is now on its ninth series, and higher-volume programmes tend to be easier to sell.

RTÉ Global first offered Garda Down Under to international broadcasters at last October’s Mipcom marketplace in Cannes and it will give the series another push at next month’s MipTV event.

Car chases

The series, which aired on RTÉ One last autumn, is made for RTÉ by the Cork-based production company Encore Media, which was given unhindered access as it followed the ex-gardaí through bush rescues, car chases, helicopter callouts and the heat of the Perth summer.

It is produced, filmed and directed by Encore’s Jonathan Levy, and Levy and his team are currently in the process of making a follow-up series, [Making it

Down Under].

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