Too Hot to Handle should pave the way for a British boom in Netflix non-scripted

The timing couldn’t have been better: a dating show for the hook-up generation that denies its contestants physical contact. Talkback’s Too Hot To Handle is sitting proudly atop Nextflix’s Most Viewed charts in territories across the world thanks to a healthy dollop of serendipity and, more importantly, the kind of reality format crafting at which British producers excel.

At a time when I’m hunting for reasons to be cheerful, the success of the show is a big fillip for both the Fremantle label and our whole indie sector, because Netflix’s appetite for this kind of content should be vast.

Even with an international cast, Too Hot To Handle feels obviously British. The tongue-in-cheek voiceover follows on from Come Dine With Me’s Dave Lamb and Love Island’s Iain Stirling, and the editing style is very distinctive.


And in amongst the abs and skimpy swimwear the show has a PSB sensibility, asking questions about the shallowness of contemporary dating (like I have any idea) and suggesting that forming a connection with someone should be more than just swiping right (or is left? Again, no idea.)

This is no surprise. Many British reality and fact ent formats that have travelled well have tended to strike that balance - and more are likely in the pipeline at the world’s biggest SVoD.

And just like its traditional broadcast rivals, format deals for specific territories seem increasingly likely. On the back of international versions of The Circle and Nailed It, Spanish- and Portuguese-language versions of Too Hot To Handle could be on the cards.

Big-budget formats in dating and food/cooking have been prime territory for Netflix for a while now, and another old favourite topic is set to be next: property.


Ted Sarandos indicated home improvement and real estate shows are on the horizon, and it would be easy to imagine an innovative format such as Remarkable’s Your Home Made Perfect being given a global Netflix spin.

Ad deals

Entirely separately, an informal conversation I had this week also gave me a reason to be cheerful. I was chatting with a pal who works in a senior capacity in sales for a major consumer brand, and he asked me how the industry was doing.

After I’d finished wringing my hands, he revealed his firm’s advertising strategy: “We’re doing our bit for TV, we’re pouring in,” he told me, before pausing. “It’s really cheap at the moment.”

There’s a reason for that, of course. Advertising spend overall is down dramatically – more than 50% in April and May, according to Channel 4 – pushing down prices, but his response was encouraging.

If more companies of that scale follow suit, the low rates might not last too long, and there will at least be some cash coming into the sector.

Chris Curtis

Let’s hope more companies follow suit. Vive le TV.

  • Chris Curtis is editor in chief of Broadcast