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Various Artists options Finnish teen drama


Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong eye adaptation of series set in psychiatric unit
Scripted indie Various Artists Ltd is eyeing an English-language remake of Finnish drama Mental.

The BBC Worldwide-backed indie, run by Sam Bain, Jesse Armstrong, Phil Clarke and Roberto Troni, has taken its first scripted option on the youth-skewing series, which tells the real-life stories of four teenagers in a secure psychiatric unit.

Finland state broadcaster YLE has recommissioned It’s Alive Productions’ original show, which has been watched by an estimated 2.8 million times online in a country with a population of 5m.

The series has also been optioned in Denmark and a 10-part French version, from Paris-based

Black Sheep Films and Endemol Shine, enters production in May for an autumn release on France Télévisions’ VoD platform Slash.

UK-based distributor Magnify Media has handled all three deals for the show, which used social media as its launchpad.

Mental was first seeded via a rap-music video filmed in an empty mental hospital, featuring the show’s cast, followed by images on Instagram.

The primary launch platform was YouTube, which hosted short-form versions up to 12 minutes. YLE then used influencers, celebrity vloggers and YouTube stars to talk about the themes prior to broadcasting the series in full on linear channel YLE2. 
France Télévisions goes Mental

Mental originated on YLE in Finland
French public broadcaster France Télévisions has secured the rights to Finnish scripted format Mental from UK distribution company Magnify Media.

The 10×23’ French version will be released on the network’s video-on-demand service Slash this autumn, coproduced by Black Sheep Films and Endemol Shine. The show tells the real-life stories of four teenagers in a secure psychiatric unit.

The format has also been optioned by UK-based production company Various Artists Limited, which was launched by Peep Show writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, and ex-Channel 4 commissioning execs Phil Clarke and Roberto Troni. Mental is the first scripted option deal signed by the production company, in which BBC Studios has a 20% stake.

NENT-owned Danish producer Strong has also picked up the local rights for the format, while the original version has been recommissioned for a second season in Finland by public broadcaster YLE. The prodco is It’s Alive Films.

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