March 2018

RTÉ Programme Sales has announced a string of international sales for Easter event documentary Countdown to Calvary (1 x 60 mins), fronted by Paddington and Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville.

The Easter special, co-produced by RTÉ, US syndication giant American Public Television (APT) and European broadcaster ARTE, has been acquired by PBS Distribution in the US, ABC and The History Channel in Australia, NRK in Norway and DR in Denmark. TVCO Italy which holds the rights for Italian Speaking Territories has secured broadcast deals with RSI (Italian Switzerland) and San Paolo Multimedia platforms.

The 4K documentary, which tells the story of the last six days of Jesus’ life, will air in all above-referenced territories over the Easter period.

Edel Edwards, head of sales at RTÉ Programme Sales, which handles the international distribution, excluding the US & Italy, for Countdown to Calvary, said: “Countdown to Calvary is a minute-by-minute, character-by-character, step-by-step retelling of the week that changed the world by an actor at the very top of his game. Hugh Bonneville’s talent and energy combined with a powerful story that belongs to us all, regardless of faith or culture — not to mention cinematic production values, amazing dramatizations, and a wealth of historical and scholarly insight — is a genuinely irresistible proposition. Countdown to Calvary is destined to become a classic.”

Countdown to Calvary
is the first project to come from RTÉ’s co-production deal with ARTE, and its first ever co-production with APT, which retains the US public-broadcasting rights. ARTE is to broadcast versions in French and German, with further translations to follow in Spanish, Polish and Italian on non-linear digital platform

Shot in 4K with the narrative pace and production values of a thriller, Countdown to Calvary fuses Bonneville’s documentary elements with high-quality location drama, state-of-the-art CGI and graphics, and academic insights in order to shed new light on the 2,000 year old story. Bonneville is known to viewers worldwide as Downton Abbey’s Lord Grantham, Paddington’s Mr Brown and W1A’s Ian Fletcher. Less well known is that he also has a degree in theology from Cambridge University — a background that makes him well positioned to interpret the events, context and characters of the Passion for mainstream international audiences.

Speaking while on location in Israel, Hugh Bonneville said: “This is a place where history and faith come together. Whether you are a person of faith or of none, you cannot escape the fact that the last six days of this man’s life, and his death, changed the world. I’m not going to chart the religion that grew out of these events. I’m interested in the events themselves: what happened in that final week of Jesus’ life, how he died, why he died and who killed him.”

In November 2016, RTÉ and ARTE signed a new agreement that will see Irish cultural content brought to international audiences. Both parties pledged to contribute a minimum of €250,000 per annum for an initial period of two years to the development of co-productions, particularly in the fields of documentary, arts, culture, factual, history and natural history.

About RTÉ Programme Sales:

RTÉ Programme Sales
exploits Irish content across all genres, including drama, documentary and formats, offering distinctive, high-quality content for broadcast on content platforms of all types worldwide. RTÉ Programme Sales represents a network of top Irish producers, both in-house and independent, whose quality content attracts global audiences.

For further information please contact

Cheryl Clarke at Mushroom Mediaon:
Tel:+44 (0)7939554109