‘The new series comes at a time when hostage negotiation is a highly topical issue’

Distributor TVF International
Producer Peddling Pictures
Length 4 x 48 minutes
Broadcaster Mediacorp’s Channel News Asia (Singapore)

Hostage negotiation is one of the most high-pressure professions in the world, requiring incredible skill and bravery in the face of often lethal danger. With exclusive access, The Negotiators International follows leaders in the field as they deal with some of the world’s most dangerous hostage situations – from terrorist group Boko Haram and an American cop gone rogue, to a ruthless Mexican drug cartel and a Manila mall hostage crisis.

“The series has exclusive access to top negotiators, including former FBI chief negotiator Gary Noesner, whose instruction manuals are used by government agencies all around the world,” says TVFI acquisitions manager Julian Chou-Lambert. “We also meet Ummu Kalthum, one of the world’s youngest female negotiators, who at 27 is one of the most successful at negotiating with terrorist group Boko Haram.”

Chou-Lambert says the series “combines dramatic reconstructions with testimony from the negotiators, the survivors and law enforcement to bring these tense situations to life.

“The first four-part series, The Negotiators, has won several awards, and the new series comes at a time when hostage negotiation is a highly topical issue,” he adds.

The second run of four more standalone stories – under the title The Negotiators International – is available at the London TV Screenings.

Each episode looks at how a negotiator handles a stand-off, with scenarios ranging from domestic incidents to terrorist kidnappings. “When we first started developing the series, we wanted to really get into the minds of the negotiators,” says Peddling Pictures co-founder Aditya Thayi, who is also producer on the series.

“So while there is a true-crime dimension to some episodes, one of the issues we wanted to explore was whether viewers could learn lessons for their own lives.

“I was also fascinated by the crossover between the negotiators’ personal and professional lives. They can be in the middle of breakfast when a phone call drops them in a live negotiation scenario.”

Additional episodes are in development and Peddling has so many stories in the pipeline that Thayi is convinced it can develop as a franchise. “Our first series focused on stories across Asia (including Australia), but for series two we’re in the US, Mexico and Nigeria, which shows the potential to keep extending the brand.”

One of its calling cards is the emphasis on female negotiators. “There aren’t that many of them, but we scoured the world and found some great examples, like Ummu and Gloria Newport, a former FBI negotiator,” Thayi explains. “It was really interesting to see the difference in their approach compared with male negotiators. They tend to adopt a softer approach, and a more lateral way of thinking.”

The show was originally commissioned by Mediacorp network CNA. TVFI came on board to handle distribution and is now looking after all territories outside Asia.

Sales exec Matt Langley says the series’ strong premise and international profile have attracted a wide range of buyers: “Series one was picked up in territories including N-TV Germany, Discovery Latin America, SIC Portugal, RTBF Belgium, Dox TV Hungary, RDF Poland, Planete+ France, Dom Tom and Netflix Asia. We are negotiating deals for season two with several global platforms and territories.”