ZDF Studios announces a raft of spring-summer highlights ahead of MIPTV 2023

Mainz, April 4th, 2023

ZDF Studios reveals a stellar lineup of scripted and unscripted content along with a range of junior titles ahead of MIPTV 2023 (Stand R7.D5). 

From thrillers to crime and suspense, several new dramas will be launched including the epic eco-thriller series The Swarm (8 x 45’) from six-time Emmy Award winning producer, Frank Doelger (Game of Thrones, John Adams, Rome, The Frankenstein Chronicles). The slate also features in depth and beautifully filmed factual programmes, covering the history and nature genres, as well as both live action and animated children’s series. 

Dr. Markus Schäfer, President and CEO, ZDF Studios said: “Following what has been a very busy and successful winter, we’re looking forward to keeping up the momentum as we head into the next season with a strong lineup of top quality content. A huge thanks goes out to all the producers, film crews, animators and talent who are responsible for creating these exciting shows that we are proud to be launching at MIPTV and beyond. Our thanks also extends to our co-production partners for their invaluable support, we hope to see many of you in Cannes.”

Based on the best-selling book by German author Frank Schätzing, The Swarm (8 x 45’), recently premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, is a bold, ambitious production from Game of Thrones showrunner Frank Doelger. A story spanning the world’s oceans and featuring an international cast, The Swarm is a gripping eco thriller like no other.  Strange happenings occur borne out of the oceans: whales destroy boats, deep sea crabs attack beaches, mussels block container ships. Across the globe, lives are increasingly imperilled – and yet, nobody can draw a connection between the seemingly random attacks. Except for a group of scientists who come together sensing that something bigger is at play: an intelligent life force, dwelling in the deep – capable of manipulating the ocean. Produced by Schwarm TV Production (a joint venture between Intaglio Films and ndF IP) for ZDF, France Télévisions, Rai Fiction, Viaplay Group, Hulu Japan, ORF, SRF, in co-production with Bravado Fiction and Beside Production, in co-operation with ATHOS. 

The drama slate continues with a different type of thriller, Clean Sweep (6 x 52’). Shelly Mohan is a super mom. She juggles the complex lives and schedules of three kids and her days are filled with cleaning, shopping, chauffeuring, and preparing meals for them and her husband, a local detective. It’s a life Shelly is happy with. But Shelly has a dark secret. Confronted by her criminal ex-boyfriend who threatens to expose her identity and destroy her life, she makes the fatal choice to murder him. She’ll now have to hide her present AND past life, as law enforcement and her husband close in on her. Produced by ShinAwil and Incendo.

A ratings winner with 21 million views online via ZDFmediathek and a primetime hit on ZDF with a market share of 20% is Dear Vivi (7 x 45’), a suspenseful drama that uncovers the mystery behind the shocking murder of a wife and mother.  The Klettmanns are a family that fate has been extraordinarily kind to. Peter, the father and a successful lawyer, is married to his childhood sweetheart, Anna, who stays home to look after their well-bred children Vivi, Danny and Emmi. And yet beneath the surface of this seemingly idyllic happy family lurk secrets of days long past. And secrets always force their way to the surface. Produced by Seven Dogs Filmproduktion.

A brand new addition to the ZDF Studios Group unscripted catalogue is the superb thriller, Uncharted (6 x 45’), which recently swept the board at the prestigious Grimme-Preis, Germany’s equivalent to the BAFTAS, winning six awards. The mysterious disappearance of a mother and outbreaks of violence among elementary school children unleashes an ominous spiral in the quiet little town of Sünnfleth. Single mother Alexandra disappears without a trace. Her sister Karen, a career soldier, is called home from an overseas assignment in Mali to take care of her nieces. Nobody knows that Karen is an addict. Produced by Odeon Fiction.

The two factual titles on offer are the history series, The Six Continents Revealed (6 x 50’),  and the nature documentary Bison - An American Icon (1 x 50’). A geological and cultural-historical biography of the world revealing how nature shaped and influenced cultures, The Six Continents Revealed goes back over 200 million years. Featuring state of the art 3-D animations, viewers are taken on a journey through time to experience drifting continental plates, sinking land masses, explosive volcanoes, and raging storms. A Story House Productions for ZDF, in association with Arte and ZDF Studios.

Few things say ‘Wild West’ like the intimidating profile of a bison, an enduring icon of North American wilderness. They played a key role in shaping the continent and the emerging United States yet these amazing cattle were almost hunted out of existence. In Yellowstone National Park, Bison - An American Icon follows the life of a bison from birth to his development into a strong bull who must fight for his right to mate. In his story we recognize the bison as a symbol that is inextricably linked to the American identity. Produced by Doclights.

Three delightful titles make up the Juniors slate. First up, from the creators and producers of the hit drama Find Me in Paris, is Spellbound (26 x 26’), an exciting high-concept series that combines ballet, magic, witchcraft, and more, with diversity and inclusivity at the heart of the production. When Cece Parker Jones, a vivacious 15 year old, relocates from a small town in the US to France to study at the Paris Opera Ballet School, she’s on top of the world. But things turn upside down when she discovers a book of family spells in the back room of her Aunt Ginger’s apothecary. Produced by Cottonwood Media GmbH in co-production with ZDF, ZDF Studios, the Opéra National de Paris and Be-Films.

Superhero Academy (13 x 15’), aimed at 6 to 10 year olds, is the perfect mix of drama and comedy featuring five first-graders who attend a very unusual boarding school for future superheroes. Despite their extraordinary abilities, this group of friends still struggle with universal problems that all youngsters can identify with. The series is told from a child’s honest and charming point of view as they encounter hilarious situations caused by their various super powers. Produced by Seefood TV.

The colourful 3D animated series Maari - Adventures at the Reef (20 x 7’), aimed at preschoolers, has diversity and environmental protection as its core themes. Maari the squid has two very best friends: Tuts, a turtle, and Fin, a crab. Wherever there are problems in the Blue Bay Reef, the three of them are there, together with the little plankton Spotti. Up for adventures, they don’t shy away from putting things right. When dangerous human garbage continues to pollute the reef, the three find a way to get rid of it. Together they are unstoppable. Produced by bigchild Entertainment.


About ZDF Studios
ZDF Studios is a commercial subsidiary of ZDF, one of the largest TV broadcasters in Europe. Founded in 1993 and headquartered in Mainz, Germany, the ZDF Studios Group operates more than 30 direct and indirect subsidiaries and affiliates in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom spanning TV production, distribution and services. The parent company, ZDF Studios, is responsible for global programme distribution, realisation of international co-productions, acquisition of licences and merchandising of successful programme brands under its own name, for ZDF and third parties. ZDF Studios has the largest German-language programme inventory in the world and a constantly growing range of international productions, consisting of series and mini-series, television films, documentaries and children's programmes.

The companies of the ZDF Studios Group cover the entire value chain from the development of scripted and unscripted TV content to production, marketing and monetizing, including TV and streaming licences as well as merchandising and online rights. The positioning of ZDF Studios as an integrated media company enables the development of innovative, outstanding and high-quality programmes and makes the Group an attractive workplace for German and international talent to flourish in a very inspiring and creative environment.

Contact ZDF Studios
Christine Denilauler (VP Marketing and Corporate Communications), ZDF Studios GmbH, Erich-Dombrowski-Str. 1, 55127 Mainz/Germany, Tel.: +49 6131-9911130, Email: christine.denilauler@zdf-studios.comwww.zdf-studios.com