CBC’s “Little Mosque on the Prairie” is set to air in Israel and other corners of the Middle East, creating an interesting case of a Canadian sitcom exporting a message of religious tolerance to various trouble spots.
In a series of recent deals, the show’s producer, West Wind Pictures, has sold the broadcast rights to the Israeli pay-TV channel Yes Stars 3, which also broadcasts to Gaza and the West Bank. The channel will begin airing the show’s first season of eight shows beginning Oct. 23,with an option to air the second season.
“I think it potentially could be seen as challenging [to some viewers],” executive producer Mary Darling said. However, she added that “we think the comedy will travel just fine. I don’t see it as something we’re nervous about.”
The show will also be shown in Dubai on the Pyramedia pay channel and in Turkey on Kanal 7. Elsewhere, the show will be seen in Finland on public broadcaster YLE Teema. A U.S. deal is also said to be close to finalizing.
The series has already been picked up by France’s Canal Plus, which includes broadcasting the show in Switzerland, French-speaking Belgium and French Africa.
“Little Mosque’s” second season of 20 episodes, a much fuller slate of programs compared with the eight last year, is set to air in Canada on CBC starting Oct. 3.
“Because the world watches so much North American television, the people that will be watching “Little Mosque on the Prairie” will understand the subtext of the culture that it’s coming out of,” Darling said. “Because the [original] episodes have already come out and people have been uploading them on YouTube, we’ve heard so much already from the world, from Saudi Arabia to Dubai to Iran.”
Unusual for a North American producer looking to sell a sitcom overseas, talks with foreign broadcasters often begin with a discussion about politics and Muslim issues in their countries, rather than about TV programming.
“For us, it starts off at a really rewarding place,” Darling said.
While the show doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a comedy, “the intent behind doing the series, at its purest, was to bring a voice to an underrepresented population,” she said.
Reprinted from the Globe and Mail, Canada, September 26, 2007.