'Diving with the Stars' flagged as next reality TV hit

First there was Dancing with the Stars. Then came Dancing on Ice. Now, in the search for the latest original knock-off, the ravenous beast of reality TV is about to ask celebrities to take a dive.

Celebrity Splash — best described as "Diving with the Stars" — is a new reality TV format generating heat at the international TV programming market this week in Mipcom in Cannes, France.

In Australia, the Seven Network has emerged as the likely buyer of the local rights to the series.

The series features celebrity contestants performing acrobatic feats from the diving board into the swimming pool, with the challenge becoming more difficult from week to week until a winner is crowned.

The concept is still at the drawing-board stage, but that has not stopped industry sources saying that Australian diving champion Matthew Mitcham would be a logical choice as a mentor for contestants.

British diver Tom Daley has also been mentioned.

Both have high profiles, and have become posterboys for diving.

The show is based on a Dutch format, Sterren Springen, which launched successfully earlier this year in the Netherlands.

It has generated enormous interest at the Mipcom market this week, famous for pushing a handful of "hot" formats to the top of the pile.

More than 4400 program buyers are attending the market, sifting through content being showcased by some 1700 studios and production companies — all hoping to own, find or secure the next big thing in TV.

Dutch formats have a reputation for travelling well in the global television market.

Big Brother, Fear Factor and The Voice were Dutch formats that became international hits in different countries.

Eyeworks, the production company that owns the Sterren Springen format internationally, has an Australian-based arm, Eyeworks Australia, run by former Nine Network executive John McAvoy.

Deals have already been signed for the series in the UK, the United States and France.

In another deal signed this week, Channel Nine has secured the rights to a cooking format The Taste.

The deal allows Nine to take the US version of the show, which features celebrity chefs Nigella Lawson and Anthony Bourdain, and also allows Nine to produce a local version for the Australian market.

The series pits "skilled" chefs against each another, watched over by a judging panel of celebrity chefs. In that sense, it is not unlike the Masterchef spin-off, Masterchef: The Professionals.

Network Ten is planning to produce a local version of Masterchef: The Professionals in 2013.

The story 'Diving with the Stars' flagged as next reality TV hit first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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