BBC announces Chinese adaptation of Life On Mars

The BBC is seeking to “captivate Chinese audiences” with a Mandarin adaptation of hit series Life On Mars.

Following the same time-travelling premise as the Bafta-winning British original, which aired with stars John Simm and Philip Glenister, it will be set in 1990s Beijing.

The 90s were a time of massive economic expansion and change in China, which saw the return of Hong Kong from UK to Chinese control.

BBC Studios production Life On Mars has been acquired by Beijing company Phoenix Entertainment Group, which counts the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV among its partners.

David Weiland, executive vice president of BBC Studios Asia, said: “I am delighted that our first partnership with Phoenix Entertainment Group is Life On Mars which ranks as one of the best dramas to come out of the UK and is a great example of the breadth and wealth of our scripted formats catalogue.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>(L-R) Dean Andrews (DC Ray Carling) Marshall Lancaster (DC Chris Skelton), Liz White (WPC Annie Cartwright) Philip Glenister (DCI Gene Hunt) & John Simm (DC Sam Tyler) of Life On Mars (Neil Jones/PA)</figcaption>
(L-R) Dean Andrews (DC Ray Carling) Marshall Lancaster (DC Chris Skelton), Liz White (WPC Annie Cartwright) Philip Glenister (DCI Gene Hunt) & John Simm (DC Sam Tyler) of Life On Mars (Neil Jones/PA)

“We have a huge range of high quality scripted titles from Doctor Foster and Luther to Thirteen and In The Club, shows that would captivate Chinese audiences.

“I look forward to viewers enjoying this local version of Life On Mars as they go back 30 years in time.”

Pre-production on the Chinese version will begin this year, with 24 episodes planned. 

The original series was set in the 1970s, featuring a present day police officer from Greater Manchester waking up in the past after a crash.

The success of the BBC series spawned a sequel, Ashes To Ashes, set in the 1980s.

BBC Studios has previously licensed the format to Russia, Spain, Czech Republic and South Korea.

Bihai Wu, general manager of Phoenix Entertainment Group, said: “We have been carefully considering other shows that could meet the criteria of high quality and consistency with our slate and brand.   

“Life On Mars drew our interest because of its originality and superb story telling.”

BBC Studios sells programmes on behalf of the BBC and UK independent producers.

- Press Association

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