Television

BBC's sitcom 'The Office' to get a French flavour

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MUMBAI: The BBC's sitcom The Office, is about to cross the Channel to wow French audiences with their version of the show.

Le Bureau has been licenced from BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, and has just finished filming with French cast and the original script adapted into French. It is due to hit French TV screens on Canal+ in the Spring, and will be the first time the Golden Globe-winning comedy has been produced in a foreign language.

Writer and star of The Office, Ricky Gervais, says, "I am still genuinely shocked at The Office's appeal in other countries. We didn't write it with a world market in mind. In fact, we never thought it would be a huge hit in Britain. We wrote it for ourselves and like-minded people. There are a lot more of those people that we could have imagined. But I won't be happy till I see an Inuit doing the dance."

BBC Worldwide director of formats Colin Jarvis says, "This is an exciting move for The Office. We'll be watching closely to see how the humour and interaction between the beleaguered staff and the overzealous boss play out in a completely different language and culture. But the move paves the way for a whole set of David Brents to appear across the world."

Wernham-Hogg, the Slough-based paper mill, where nothing ever seemed to get done becomes Cogirep, a down-at-heel office based in the featureless Villepinte, a well-known business park to the north of Paris. The cast, as in the original version, is made up of mainly unknown actors, with the exception of office manager Gilles Triquet, Francois Berléand, (pictured), who fills the role of Ricky Gervais' David Brent.

A slightly older version of his UK counterpart, Triquet will be just as beleaguered, and it is hoped that his bizarre philosophies on life, which came to be known affectionately in the UK as 'Brent-isms', will be heard all over the country.

The Office was first broadcast in the UK five eyars ago and ran for two series with two Christmas specials. The series finale, broadcast in 2003 reached 6.14 million viewers.

Although Le Bureau will be the first foreign language version of the sitcom, the original stories have been sold in 80 countries worldwide making it the most successful BBC comedy export of all time. The format was sold to the US two years ago, following the sitcom's Golden Globe win, where it aired its initial 16 episodes over two seasons on NBC. It has recently been recommissioned for a third series, comprising 28 episodes.

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