A Swedish take on BaseBoys? SVT is Up4it

With a successful version of DR’s Klassen in the bag, SVT now plans to pull off a similar trick. The target audience is a real challenge: 10 to 12-year-olds who have grown up online and are completely used to accessing content from every corner of the world.

Foto: Thomas Gerhardt, DR

Foto: Thomas Gerhardt, DR

It all began with BaseBoys. The fictive story follows four friends who suddenly have to face the highs and lows of celebrity as members of Denmark’s greatest boy band.

When DR Ultra – a channel for 7 to 12-year-olds – launched the original version, the response was overwhelming, and the show soon featured among DR’s most streamed content. Written by Toke Westmark Steensen, BaseBoys is an own production by DR.

The Danish series was dubbed for Norwegian viewers on NRK. However, SVT is in the process of preparing their own version with the title Up4it.

 

It’s been a real treat having the Danish episodes as our starting point

- Petter Bragée, Managing Editor, SVT Malmö

 

New subjects for the target audience

Petter Bragée, Managing Editor at SVT Malmö, is hopeful to say the least.

“We just thought the Danish series was really good. It deals with themes that we can’t use in other shows aimed at 10 to 12-year-olds. And the fact that it was such a huge success in Denmark suggests a real demand,” he says.

One of the themes is living life in the spotlight. What happens if you become a public person when you’re still a child?

“In today’s world with so many new and different paths to ’celebrity’, it feels important to produce a show that highlights the problems and shows the downside of living this dream. Exactly as we did with Klassen, we’ll adapt the show, but there are no plans to change the basic storyline,” Petter Bragée explains.

Different title makes things easier for the audience SVT has changed the title – from BaseBoys to Up4it – to make it easier for users to find the right show when they are searching for content.

In the Swedish version of Klassen, they kept the title, but all the characters were given different names.

“We did of course gain most of our experience from Klassen, and we’ve made two seasons of this show so far. We’re currently planning a third. It’s been a real treat having the Danish episodes as our starting point. This provides our talented rewriters/stage managers, Janne Persson and Amelie Nörgaard, with a base for crafting something that’ll hopefully be even sharper and more concise. Some episodes have taken more effort to adapt, but overall it’s been better to do a remake rather than create a completely new show,” says Petter Bragée.

Amelie Nörgaard is at her best when deeply immersed in the Danish intrigues, and she likes everything she has read and watched.

“The Danish script is very well-written; the basic story’s brilliant, and the characters are great. It has warmth, and it offers both entertainment and food for thought,” she says.


Foto: Thomas Gerhardt, DR

 

Older target audience in Sweden

In spite of some differences between Danish and Swedish settings, the fundamental elements of both shows will be familiar.

“There won’t be radical changes, but you’ll definitely see some differences. The Swedish version will be aimed at a somewhat older target audience than the Danish one. And one of the basic premises has been completely rewritten. A lot of the adaptation since has focused on cutting the number of episodes from 22 to 16,” Amelie explains.

As a scriptwriter working from a Danish original, she has relatively free rein to create her own series, but Up4it should of course seem familiar to those who have already watched BaseBoys. Otherwise, the whole idea of using an existing model would be lost, she concludes.

 

Broadcast is now a ’shop window’
 

When it comes to streaming and broadcast, Peter Bragée explains that their roles have been switched.

“Today, our broadcast channel is simply a shop window for our online offerings. Children mostly consume our content online. That’s why it’s extremely important to have strong brands, clear premises and a catchy start to each show. However, the answer is not to try and copy the offerings on YouTube or Netflix, but rather to create our own content which is relevant enough to hold its own,” he says.

Peter Bragée points out that the huge success of BaseBoys in Denmark was one of the main reasons why SVT decided to go ahead with its own version.

“That and the realisation that audiences crave the chance to learn about important issues, but they want an entertaining format. We seem to be entering a golden era for Swedish public service children’s TV. I’m a great believer in more remakes of good, clever and relevant fictional series – especially in the Children category. Why reinvent the wheel when you can refine it instead,” he says.

 

Real life is often too harsh

Amelie Nörgaard’s script is taking shape at a steady pace. The greatest challenge, she explains, is whether to show reality as it actually is, or as she wants it to be.

“Real life is often too tough and crude for public service content, so the trick is to come up with stories that fall somewhere in between. Also, in my experience, the idea of having large volumes works well with the target audience. I often get comments such as, ’Can’t you make some more episodes? Never mind making them so damn good, just make some more.’ Being able to relate to the characters and to what’s being told, that’s the important thing here.”

Up4it will premiere in 2020 on SVT.

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