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Famed German Scribe Natalie Scharf’s ZDF Smash Hit ‘Dear Vivi’ Brought onto the Market by ZDF Studios (EXCLUSIVE)

LILLE, France  — ZDF Studios is bringing onto the market at Series Mania, “Dear Vivi,” the biggest series hit to date on ZDFmediathek, the VOD service of German public broadcaster.

Described by ZDF Studios as an “emotional family drama and thriller combo,” “Dear Vivi” also joins a new wave of more successful crime drama thrillers.

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Though packing multiple suspense-drivers to their very end, these are more why than whodunnits, the motives for crime more important than the identity of the killer, known in the drama’s early going. One such series, Spain’s “Rapa,” showcased at the Berlinale Series Market, proved Movistar+’s biggest series bow of 2022.

In Germany, “Dear Vivi” (“Gestern waren wir noch Kinder”) has set new online records, its seven episodes, which launched on  ZDFmedaithek on Dec. 30, punching online almost 21 million views, or three million views per episode.

This makes the program the most-viewed series in the ZDFmediathek to date but also by far the most successful German streaming offer in the current year, ZDF Studios announced Tuesday at the beginning of Series Mania’s Forum, which runs March 21-23, taking in the centerpiece Co-Pro Pitching Sessions on Tuesday and the Lille Dialogues two days later.

Airing on three consecutive nights over Jan. 9-11, “Dear Vivi’s” linear broadcast notched up an average of 5.6 million viewers for a 20% market, crowing it as making it the prime time winner on all three broadcast days. The series also scored record TikTok followers and fan edits: over 23K followers and half a million likes within three weeks of its launch.

Written and produced by successful German TV writer Natalie Scharf, behind one of ZDF’s longest-running series, “Frühling,” (2010-23), “Dear Vivi” begins with Vivi, 16, limping down a street to a pharmacy and then collapsing in tears in a delayed reaction to discovering some hours before that her dad, Peter, has killed her mum.

Cut to 16 hours earlier where a seemingly perfect family celebrates mum Anna’s 44th birthday over breakfast before the father returns home to discover his wife hiding some undisclosed secret in the kitchen and kills her, ending up in custody pending trial.

Vivian Klettmann (Julia Beautx), Daniel Klettmann (Vico Magno)
‘Dear Vivi’

“This thriller-drama crossover unfolds on two different time frames: The family’s oldest daughter, Vivi tries to take on responsibility for her two younger siblings while the father Peter in custody attempts to explain the lead-up to this terrible crime by means of flashbacks.

Already, Episode 1 has asked urgent questions such as why Peter, a wealthy lawyer having dropped off Vivi and her siblings at a posh Munich private school, picks up Vivi’s arch nemesis, in her own class, who comes from a family too poor to afford the school, and drives off with her. He is later seen throwing a cell-phone into a canal.

“I guess it had to end in catastrophe one day. No secret stays buried for ever. The dirtier the secret, the harder it tries to come to light,” Peter writes to Vivi from prison in an initial voiceover. 

“When I was as old as you I already had four deaths on my conscience,” he confesses slightly later.

Growing up in a psychiatric ward where here father worked as a psychologist, as a portrait in Germany’s Welt notes, Scharf, whose Seven Dogs Film Produktion produced “Dear Vivi,” has a fine sense of how people enact their lives, constructing images of themselves far from reality.

Returning to a dark past, “Dear Vivi” builds, in a carefully crafted structure, a picture of a family where, despite its luxury villa in a quiet Munich suburb, murder becomes a high probability.

‘We are delighted at the enormous success of ‘Dear Vivi’ and are pleased to present it in Lille as one of our Series Mania highlights. It is a series which connects with all generations, the young in particular, and is the focus of many discussions and viewing recommendations,” said Sebastian Krekeler, director of drama at ZDF Studios.

“‘Dear Vivi’ does not only generate interest thanks to its highly talented cast, but above all due to its nerve-racking storyline, big secrets and unexpected cliffhanger,” he added. “This also makes it an immensely attractive production for our international customers.”

‘Dear Vivi’
‘Dear Vivi’

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