Could this be the sign that Africa is about to become the next big territory in the international TV market?

Disney Media Distribution unveiled a deal at Mipcom today that will see its hit series Desperate Housewives remade for African audiences.

The series, which will be filmed in Nigeria and known as Desperate Housewives Africa, will be co-produced by EbonyLife TV and Disney. It is set to air in summer 2014.

The series will feature an African cast of new and established talents, and will be filmed on location in Lagos, where a local “Wisteria Lane” has been found. The show will closely follow the format and storylines of the original US version, but with a Nigerian flavour.

The show will be executive produced by Mo Abudu, the CEO and executive chairman of EbonyLife TV (pictured below with Disney’s Giovanni Mastrelangelo).

She told Televisual that Desperate Housewives Africa reversion would be “very, very modern” and that the production team was working with leading Nigerian fashion designers and interior designers to create the look of the show.

A passionate advocate for Africa, Abudu pitched the deal as a symbol of the economic rise of Africa. “It’s Africa’s time to shine,” she said. “We are the only part of the world not going through recession.” She pointed out that there over 0.5bn mobile subscribers across the continent, with 120m mobile subscribers in Nigeria alone.

She added that it was time for mainstream media to focus on the many positive things that are happening in Africa, rather than fuelling perceptions that the entire continent is engulfed in famine, poverty, disaster and war.

EbonyLife TV launched three months ago and is a pan-African channel that is pitched at the continent’s growing middle class. Featuring a mix of aspirational  homegrown and acquired content, it plays on Africa’s leading pay-TV platform DStv.

Abudu hosts her own talk show on EbonyLifeTV called Moments with Mo, which has seen her interview high profile guests such as former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham-Clinton through to footballer Rio Ferdinand.

It’s not the first time that Disney has remade the Desperate Housewives format for international audiences. It’s also had great success with a Turkish version which launched in 2011 and is now in its fourth season. The show also been remade in Argentina, Brazil, Columbia/Ecuador and in a US Hispanic version.

Giovanni Mastrelangelo, Disney Media Distributions’s general manager for emerging markets said the deal offered “the opportunity to engage African audiences through locally relevant and entertaining storytelling.”

Tim Dams

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