UFA Serial Drama

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UFA Serial Drama
Subsidiary of Universum Film AG
Industry Television production
Founded 1991 (1991)
Headquarters Berlin, Germany
Number of locations
Cologne, Germany
Potsdam, Germany
Budapest, Hungary
Area served
Germany and Hungary
Key people
Reg Grundy
Wolf Bauer
Products Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten
Verbotene Liebe
Wege zum Glück
Parent Universum Film AG
Divisions Grundy Light Entertainment
Magyar Grundy UFA
Grundy UFA Baleares
Grundy UFA Serienschule
Website www.ufa-serialdrama.de

UFA Serial Drama (founded as Grundy UFA or Grundy UFA Produktions GmbH) is a German production company and part of the Universum Film AG. It was founded in 1991 and became a major influence for German soap operas and telenovelas. The company is known as one of the largest producers of industrially produced serial formats in Europe.


The business produces more than 750 hours of fictional programs. Due to a special industrial system, the production company can produce up to 42 minutes broadcast material per day. In addition to the production sites in Berlin, Cologne and Potsdam-Babelsberg UFA Serial Drama maintains a subsidiary, Magyar Grundy UFA, in Budapest, Hungary.

In 2005, UFA Serial Drama founded the first school for a professional education in story-telling, the Grundy UFA Serienschule. The first year started in November 2005.


Soap operas[edit]

The first daily soap opera, Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten became the prestige project of Grundy UFA. After low ratings and negative reviews in the beginning the serial became a popular part of Germany's pop culture and having about seven million viewers in the beginning of the 2000s. The show is still pulling more than 20% market share in the target group 14-49 and isn't only the longest-running daily soap, but also the most successful one.

After GZSZ became a success, the RTL network wanted to add another daily soap to their line-up. Grundy UFA adapted the Australian soap opera Sons and Daughters and presented the network a show called Verbotene Liebe. But RTL was afraid to touch an incest storyline that revolves around most of the show's beginning and canceled the project. Grundy UFA decided to not give up on the idea and presented the idea to Das Erste. The show premiered on January 2, 1995, while RTL added the Grundy UFA production Unter uns, a soap opera about a neighborhood in Cologne, which premiered on November 28, 1994 - five weeks before Das Erste could introduce viewers to Verbotene Liebe.

The first set back came in 1996 with Alle zusammen - Jeder für sich, which was produced for the RTL 2 network. Low ratings ended production after one year and 230 episodes. While one daily soap was going off the air, Grundy UFA adapted yet another Australian soap opera, Prisoner. The German show became the name Hinter Gittern and ran for ten years and 403 episodes as a weekly soap on RTL. In the show's later seasons, fans and critics criticized Hinter Gittern for its plot holes and permanent change of authors.

In 1997, Grundy UFA also started the Hungarian soap opera Barátok közt, which shows resemblance to the BBC's EastEnders. The daily soap became very popular and is still airing. Another Hungarian adventure was the weekly soap Szeress Most!, which aired for two years from 2003 to 2005.

Another interesting project became the daily soap Mallorca – Suche nach dem Paradies. Filmed on the Spanish island Mallorca, the show's budget was the highest ever used for a German daily soap. The show started on April 26, 1999 on ProSieben and even though the soap could pull in decent numbers after six months, the show was canceled in fall of 1999 because of its production costs, who could not live up the show's ratings.

The weekly soap Großstadtträume, a primetime spin-off of GZSZ, became another fail for Grundy UFA and was canceled after only seven episodes aired in the early summer of 2000. It took Grundy UFA six years to convince RTL to produce another daily soap for them. Originally planned as a telenovela, Alles was zählt proved successful after its premiere in September 2006 and became part of Germany's soap opera world.


After a few foreign telenovelas aired in the late 80s and early 90s, it was Grundy UFA who first produced a German telenovela in 2004. Bianca – Wege zum Glück became a huge success for the ZDF network and was followed by a dozen other shows in this genre. When Bianca became a happy end in 2005, Grundy UFA and the ZDF wanted to hold on to the Wege zum Glück brand and continued other melodramatic telenovelas under that name. After more than 700 chapters, ZDF ended the telenovela in February 2009.

In 2005, Grundy UFA became responsible for the most successful German telenovela, Verliebt in Berlin. The show was an adaptation of the Colombian telenovela Yo soy Betty, la fea and ended after two seasons and 645 chapters. Actress Alexandra Neldel, who played protagonist Lisa Plenske, became a huge star in Germany and France. The final episode of the first season - Lisa's happy end with David Seidel - was seen by 7.35 million viewers. Verliebt in Berlin even became a threat for Grundy UFA's soap GZSZ for a short while. After Neldel left, the second season of the show became a disappointment with lower ratings and mixed reviews.

Sophie – Braut wider Willen became another flop on Grundy UFA's hand. The telenovela, set in the 19th century, ended with a happy end after 65 episodes of low ratings. The ZDF telenovela Leben für die Liebe ended its unsuccessful run after 125 episodes, with the last episodes airing after midnight.

In 2009, Grundy UFA wanted a successor for the popular Wege zum Glück brand and created another melodramatic telenovela with Alisa – Folge deinem Herzen. Critics gave the new project mixed reviews thinking the show's setting appeared as too cold on-screen. Alisa was followed by Hanna and after the Folge deinem Herzen brand continued to lose viewers, ZDF ended the brand after 370 chapters in September 2010.

Followed by an unsuccessful soap opera, produced by rival Bavaria Film, Grundy UFA showed interest in taking the time-slot back.