US station eyeing up 'Operation Transformation'
RTE is in talks with a US-based television station interested in purchasing the rights to the popular health and fitness programme Operation Transformation.
Series producer Niamh Bradley, of Vision Independent Productions, told the Sunday Independent: "It's too early yet to disclose which station it is, but of course if the format was adopted by a US network that would be massive for us and I suppose a great vindication of the work put into the show."
If RTE does agree a rights contract, the deal could be worth millions to the financially challenged station.
Two European television stations, RTL in Holland and VTM in Belgium, recorded adapted versions of the programme last year, having purchased the rights from RTE.
VTM changed the name of the programme to Let's get fit.
"It's a sign of the success of the format and the efforts of the production team to keep it fresh that there is interest like this," admitted Niamh Bradley.
Meanwhile, this year's series of RTE's Operation Transformation is set to register record viewing figures if current trends continue. Average viewing ratings for series seven (for 10 of the 16 episodes) comes to 567,400 per show.
With the finale still to come, producers of the programme, which began life on the Gerry Ryan show on 2fm, expect the ratings to pip the record average of 606,500 per show reached for series five.
The loss of controversial nutrional expert Dr Eva Orsmond has had little impact on viewing figures.
Ms Bradley added: "Of course we were uncertain what would happen when Dr Eva decided to leave. She had been on the show since the beginning. . . But we now know that no one person is bigger than the Operation Transformation programme."
Amongst those to capture the imagination of viewers this season is former Kerry GAA goalkeeper Paudie O'Mahoney, who has lost nearly two-and-a-half stone since turning his back on a life of alcohol abuse and poor eating.
And, yesterday, runners turned out in force in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, and in Blarney, Co Cork, for Operation Transformation 5K fun runs. The programme's leaders and presenters, Kathryn Thomas and John Murray, took part.