Can’t Touch This represents the debut format from Northern Irish production company Stellify, which is a joint venture between producers Kieran Doherty and Matt Worthy and the international television arm of Hollywood studio Sony Pictures.
UK broadcaster BBC One, for so long unsuccessful in its search of a new Saturday night entertainment hit, has high hopes for the show. A ten-part series will air on Saturday evenings in 2016, marking what Doherty claims will be “the biggest entertainment commission to come out of our part of the world”.
Northern Ireland Screen has added to the budget as part of its strategy to invest in “the best companies working in the country”, noting in press materials Stellify’s “breadth of vision and committed work ethic”.
“Fun and comedy play a massive part in this format,” says Jane Dockery, senior VP of formats, international distribution, Sony Pictures Television, “and it’s designed to bring the family together.”
The premise is very simple: whatever contestants can touch, they can take home. Twenty contestants tackle a huge assault course, which offers rewards placed in difficult positions, in a time trial. As the rounds progress, competitors are whittled down, with viewers shown montages of ‘epic fails’.
Each episode culminates with one participant making a huge leap of faith in an effort to touch a car suspended in the air. As the rule goes, touch it and keep it.
“The key isn’t overcoming the obstacles,” says Dockery. “There’s a lot of comedy, but also with the added level of winning prizes.”
SPT last month took some selected clients to filming in Belfast following demands to see the show in action. “We’re looking to have key partners in place in time for MIPCOM,” says Dockery.
Local formats will likely to be shot in a centralised hub, which is more economical than other approaches, according to Dockery. SPT employs the strategy for the local versions of Raid the Cage for Argentina’s Telefe and Mexico’s Azteca.
SPT will target free TV broadcasters looking for big, broad entertainment pieces for their schedules, as is the case with BBC One.
The show: Can’t Touch This
The producer: Stellify
The distributor: Sony Pictures Television
The broadcaster: BBC One (UK)
The concept: Contestants win prizes by touching items placed around an assault course