The Last Emperor (Payitaht: Abdulhamid) — a Turkish TV series about the life of Abdul Hamid II, the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire — has drawn a broad international audience, especially in the Middle East and the Balkans.
Serdar Ogretici, the show’s producer, spoke to Anadolu Agency as the series recently aired its 95th episode on state TV channel TRT1.
The Last Emperor came to life following another Ottoman history-related TV series Filinta. Ogretici said they decided to produce The Last Emperor after seeing the audience interest in the character Abdul Hamid II in Filinta.
“There are many documents and books [regarding the life and reign of Abdul Hamid II] available due to proximity of his reign to the current times and his reign’s long duration, and also he was a visionary,” he added.
Because it is a closer date to current time, and Sultan Abdulhamid Han reigned for a long time and he has a visionary, different style, we have many documents and books about him.
Industry in Turkey more efficient than Hollywood
The hard-working directors and crew give Turkey an edge over the U.S. when it comes to filming TV series, according to Ogretici.
“We can create higher quality (content), because in one year they produce 10 episodes of 45-50 minutes, while we produce in 10 weeks episodes of much longer duration and spectacular […] we have more practice, our industry works very hard,” the producer said.
Ogretici said they also work with historical consultants to ensure accuracy.
“We are also keeping check on the credibility of the stories being told. A certain amount of fiction, of course, is unavoidable as we produce over 150 minutes of content per week. At the end of the day, we aren’t filming documentaries; we are creating something watchable that doesn’t contradict history,” he added.
Turkish TV series attract global audience
Many people in the Middle East and the Turkic countries have a particular interest in the Ottoman history. “(They) embrace the character as one of them […],” Ogretici pointed out.
Second only to the U.S. in worldwide TV distribution, Turkey has made remarkable achievements in exports and international viewership.
The Turkish producer said that what attracts the Turkish audience also tends to attract the international viewers and their focus has been on continuously raising the bar since the famous Turkish TV series Muhtesem Yuzyil (Magnificent Century), Resurrection: Ertugrul and Filinta.
The past 15 years’ work has raised expectations regarding the quality of Turkish television production, he added.
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