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HomeBollywoodBBC Beat Netflix In 'Dear England' Bidding War For Joseph Fiennes Show

BBC Beat Netflix In ‘Dear England’ Bidding War For Joseph Fiennes Show

EXCLUSIVE: The BBC was victorious in a bidding war with Netflix for Dear England amid fears for the future of British storytelling on television.

Deadline hears that Left Bank Pictures and Dear England writer James Graham wanted the stage play to be adapted on the BBC, despite a more lucrative offer from Netflix.

The four-part series was announced by the BBC last month and will be based on Graham’s National Theatre play, which provides a fictionalized account of England’s soccer team.

Fiennes (The Handmaid’s Tale) featured as waistcoat-wearing England manager Gareth Southgate in the stage show and will reprise his role for the BBC series.

Sony Pictures Television-backed Left Bank and Graham chose the BBC over Netflix because they view Dear England as a national story that should be told by the UK’s national broadcaster.

Financials for the deal were not disclosed and Left Bank will likely top up the lower BBC fee with international sales. Sources at the BBC hope the series can be a “blockbuster” national moment.

The deal came weeks before Left Bank founder Andy Harries made an impassioned speech about British drama at the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards.

He said the UK was at risk of becoming a “service industry” to Hollywood and UK broadcasters, including the BBC and ITV, are “increasingly looking vulnerable” to streamers like Netflix.

“The streamers need the competition. Our industry needs a healthy BBC. The BBC keeps us British, its role in our society is unique and unifying,” he said.

Harries and Jane Tranter, co-founder of Doctor Who outfit Bad Wolf, both used platforms last week to call for the recent 40% tax break for UK indie films to be extended to “specifically British” limited series.

Harries also heralded ITV series Mr Bates vs the Post Office, which became an enormous local hit in January after the Toby Jones vehicle brought to life a painful miscarriage of justice.

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