A television producer behind HBO’s Game of Thrones has blamed Brexit complications as the reason why a new German science-fiction drama is not being filmed in Northern Ireland.
he Swarm – adapted from the 2004 bestselling novel from Frank Schatzing – is being turned into an eight-part drama series for German TV.
The show has mainly been filmed in the Italian regions of Lazio, Veneto and Puglia but it is thought Northern Ireland could have been a contender with triple Emmy-winning producer Frank Doelger’s involvement in the project.
The man who worked on Game of Thrones up to series five said the “situation” with Northern Ireland “became more complicated after Brexit”.
According to Northern Ireland Screen, Game of Thrones pumped £251m into the local economy between the beginning of the show’s production in 2010 and the finale in 2019.
“All of the rules and regulations about equipment going back and forth, transport from Northern Ireland, became something much more complicated and I know in Game of Thrones, you know what made it possible, we could put actors on a plane either in Belfast or drive them down to Dublin, [and] get them into Spain working,” Doelger told The Guardian.
The novel the show is based on has sold in excess of 4.5m copies following its publication across Germany and Austria in 2004.
The book follows an ensemble of protagonists who are investigating what at first appear to be freak events related to the world’s oceans, but which turn out to involve an intelligent entity.
The TV adaptation will be filmed in English rather than German as part of a plan by ZDF to secure major international sales and tap into streaming services.
“A lot of broadcasters have realised that with the advent of streaming services, the kind of projects that they used to buy from the UK or America – the high-quality, high-production English-language series that were very important to a younger audience and a more international audience – they were no longer going to buy,” Doelger added.
“I think there isn’t the resistance you would expect because these projects have been carved our specifically to fill a gap in their schedule.
“No local producers who are doing the standard fare of German television would take something like this on.
“It is not that they are saying to local producers that they are not going to be supporting the local language, we are simply taking the airtime and the money allocated for acquisitions and creating projects.”
The show is expected to premiere next year and will cast Leonie Benesch, who played Prince Philip’s sister Cecilie in The Crown.