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ZDF Enterprises, Beta Film and Gruppe 5 to produce opulent event series "Alexander"

Michael Hirst on board as scriptwriter

Mainz/Munich/Cologne, 14th January 2013

The Macedonian commander Alexander the Great, one of the mightiest rulers in history, holds center stage in the opulent event series “Alexander,” which is being produced jointly by ZDF Enterprises, Beta Film and Gruppe 5 Filmproduktion. The author of the large-scale production, which is to be shot in English and will comprise eight to twelve one-hour episodes, is U.K. native Michael Hirst, who was responsible for, among others, “The Tudors,” “Elizabeth” and “Camelot” and numbers among the leading international showrunners.

“Alexander” is the first joint coproduction of ZDF Enterprises, Beta Film and Gruppe 5 Filmproduktion, headquartered in Cologne. The idea was spawned by Uwe Kersken, managing partner of Gruppe 5, who is currently working closely with Michael Hirst on the concept and the first scripts. Pre-production and scripting of the event series, which is scheduled to have a three-season run, will take place in 2013 and production is expected to begin in 2014.

Alexander the Great is one of the most dazzling and controversial rulers, and one of the greatest commanders in world history. Up to his death at the age of 33 – which was also premature in his day – he expanded his father’s realm from Macedonia to Egypt and India. To this day he is considered as one of the greatest warfare strategists ever. His life was stamped by everything that characterizes a great event drama: the hunger for power, intrigues, lust and excess.

Author and showrunner Michael Hirst says: "Not many rulers are ever called ‘Great.’ Alexander of Macedonia was the first, and is still probably the greatest. By the age of 33 he had explored and conquered most of the known world, and was already widely acknowledged to be a god. But for me, the fascination of this series lies in the character of the man himself. Taught by Aristotle, descended from Hercules, Alexander remained full of doubts, as well as questions about the nature and purpose of life. From ancient history he reaches out to talk to those who still dream of shattering the boundaries and limits of human experience."

Uwe Kersken on the project: “When I began thinking about a drama series on Alexander the Great, three things became important to me: the dramaturgy would have to make it clear that Alexander was not only a great conqueror and tyrant, but was also characterized by an enormous thirst for knowledge and was open to the foreign languages and cultures in all the lands he conquered. Secondly, I had to find a world-class author and showrunner – and I am delighted that Michael Hirst, who shares the passion for this project with me, has agreed to join us. Thirdly, we would need strong partners who have my full trust clear across the board, and who are used to moving in international circles.”

Beta Film managing director Eric Welbers: "In Alexander we unite outstanding European creative talent with many years of experience in European production and distribution. I am convinced that this interplay will pave the way for the program’s national and international success, with regard to its contents and its commercial value.

Alexander Coridass, President and CEO at ZDF Enterprises, asserts: “There is no doubt that the united expertise of three internationally renowned partners – Gruppe 5, Beta Film and ZDF Enterprises – along with the exceptionally talented Michael Hirst, will lead to the international success of Alexander. I am proud of the great creative potential of our associate company Gruppe 5 Filmproduktion, which initiated this project.”


About ZDF Enterprises

ZDF Enterprises was founded in 1993 as a commercial subsidiary of ZDF, one of the largest and most renowned TV broadcasters in Europe. Headquartered in Mainz, Germany, ZDF Enterprises is responsible for the worldwide sale of programs, the making of international coproductions, the acquisition of licenses as well as the merchandising of strong program brands in its own name, for the ZDF, and for third parties. ZDF Enterprises has successfully established itself as an independent market player on the German and international stage. Bound into a strong group, the company manages the largest German-language stock of programs in the world and, next to this, a continuously growing portfolio of international productions consisting of series and miniseries, TV movies, documentaries and children’s programs. In the course of the development and diversification process carried out up to now, many business fields in the television and media domains were made accessible in the ZDF Enterprises group. Thus ZDF Enterprises can provide a comprehensive, full-service offering today, and covers every step in the chain of origin and exploitation of successful TV programs, from development to production and up to the marketing of TV licenses, merchandising rights, online rights and much more.

Contact ZDF Enterprises

Christine Denilauler (Vice President Marketing and Corporate Communications), ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Erich-Dombrowski-Str. 1, D-55127 Mainz/Germany, Tel.: +49 6131-9911130, Fax: +49 6131-9912130, e-mail:,


About Beta Film

Founded in 1959, Beta Film GmbH is one of the world's leading international distributors of licenses rights for TV, HV and new media as well as theatrical rights (Beta Cinema) and is involved in international co-productions. Beta's one-of-a-kind program catalogue comprises over 15,000 hours or 4,000 titles in every available format and genre from top U.S. productions, international TV and theatrical hits, among them several Academy Award-winning feature films, and top-of-the-line European and German programs. Its subsidiary Kineos handles German-language Free-TV rights with a portfolio of 12.000 titles. Beta Film has been part of Jan Mojto's company group since 2004.

Contact Beta Film

Beta Film Presse, Dorothee Stoewahse, Tel: + 49 89 67 34 69 15,,


About Uwe Kersken and Gruppe 5 Filmproduktion GmbH

Uwe Kersken, Producer / Executive Producer, was born in 1949. He has a degree in psychology and psychotherapy, began working as a TV producer in 1985, is the author and director of documentary films with a focal point in the fields of history, science, culture, society and nature for the German and international TV market. Uwe Kersken is managing partner of Gruppe 5 Filmproduktion GmbH headquartered in Cologne; the other shareholders are ZDF Enterprises, Doclights Studio Hamburg and Christel Fomm. Uwe Kersken is producer and Executive Producer of all films and series for primetime. Since 2006 he has been a member of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He is also active as a lecturer, and initiated and conceived the Cologne International Film School’s Non Fiction Master Class, which he has been responsible for since 2009.
In addition to many one-hour programs, the following episodic programs were also produced in recent years, including: “The Jews – History of a People,” “The Teutons,” “Update – The World in 50 Years,” “Super Comet,” “Welcome to China”(incl. “China’s Forbidden City,” “China’s Great Wall,” “Tyrant and Visionary – China’s First Emperor”), “Great India,” “The Battle Against Rome” (The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest), “South Africa – The Land Of Hope” (history of South Africa) as well as “America before Columbus.” The greatest successes were obtained with the China program highlight as well as with the first season of “The Germans” and “Superstructures” for the ZDF. “Dawn of the Ocean” was produced in 2010 as well as the second season of “The Germans,” a series about Egypt for “Terra X” as well as the docu-drama “Adenauer” for ARD followed in 2011. Currently in production are the the six-part “Women who made History (WT)” as well as “Beloved Enemy” (10 episodes on the history of Franco-German relations).

Contact Gruppe 5 Filmproduktion

Gruppe 5 Filmproduktion GmbH, Kartäuserwall 19-21, D-50678 Köln / Cologne, Telefon +49 221 946 7070, Fax +49 221 946 707, E-Mail:


Christine Denilauler

Christine Denilauler

Vice President Marketing and Corporate Communications

+49 (0) 6131 / 991–1130
+49 (0) 6131 / 991–2130
ZDF Enterprises GmbH
Erich-Dombrowski-Str. 1
55127 Mainz | Germany


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