The Beeb says Yes Mantriji!!!

BBC Worldwide is driving hard into the Indian market. It started outwith coverage of local events and followed it with the creation of a local programming block on its India service.

It has since been trying to hawk its programming library to Indian programmers and has struck deals with Tara, DD, among other broadcasters. Driving the programme syndication, licensing and sales initiative has been senior executive Monisha Shah, who once worked with production house Plus Channel in India.

The latest arrangement the Beeb it has got into is with the Prannoy Roy-owned New Delhi Television (NDTV) to produce 38 episodes of the Indian version of the famous Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister. Called Ji Mantriji and Ji Pradhan Mantriji the shows will air on Star Plus in Hindi. The stars of the show stars Farooq Sheikh ( Suryaprakash Singh) as Jim Hacker Jayant Kriplani (Rajnath Mathur) as Sir Humphrey with the scripts being adapted to Hindi by Alok Tomar (Ji Mantraji) and Purshottam Agarwal (Ji Pradhan Mantriji). The adaptation has resulted in references to football becoming cricket and the European Community becoming the Commonwealth. Eminent Indian cartoonist RK Laxman has penned the caricatures for the show. "The program has the same story line and characters, with a different structure," says BBC Worldwide's MD, Mark Young. The Beeb selected NDTV based on its long association with the content provider, and its "superior production quality" for the series Question Time India. BBC Worldwide refused to put a finger on the budget for the show, though it is reported to be in the region of $ 1 million. The pilot has been tested in different parts of the country, and has received a positive response, say BBC sources. The half hour series is expected to air at 8 pm Thursdays from early next year. BBC Worldwide, which expects to generate revenues of US$15 million from India in the current year, hopes to double them in the next three to four years. So expect many more such initiatives

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