The fiction series will premiere in a total of 11 countries on Movistar+ (Spain) and Movistar Series (Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Chile and Argentina).
Inside the Spain of the 1960s
Created by Paco León and Anna R. Costa, Arde Madrid takes viewers back in time to 1961, during the full Francoist dictatorship, where Ava Gardner enjoyed what's known as Madrid's Dolce Vita alongside an elite group of artists, aristocrats and foreigners.
Her downstairs neighbor was none other than General Perón, who was in exile from Argentina and just married to his second wife Isabelita.
“We were looking for a story to work on together. From the start we wanted it to have a historic context and when we heard the anecdote about when Ava met her neighbor, General Perón, we started it from there,” Anna R Costa said to ttvnews.
“The idea wasn’t to do a biopic about Ava Gardner or Perón, so we set up a domestic service for Ava that worked as a filter and from then we devised it to be a commission by Franco to spy on her and her surroundings,” she added.
The General, Ava Gardner, Aline Griffith and Charlton Heston will act as stellar supporting characters in the lives of the show's true protagonists: Manolo, Ana Mari and Pilar, the housekeeping service.
Through their everyday lives we can see the most intimate moments in the life of a Hollywood star, and also the exuberance of Madrid at that time: flamenco, the civil guard, the Feminine Section, gypsy clans, unique necklaces, espionage… and above all else, sex, whiskey and rock & roll.
An international approach
The eight half-hour episodes is the first production on Spanish TV to be filmed in black and white, something Paco León says was part of its goal of becoming a truly international series.
“So the idea from the start was to create it for pay TV, but thinking about the most global audience possible. In fact, the mix of genres, the format, the black and white, it all made it very pay TV. And Movistar’s goal in terms of original production, which is creating things that are different, good and different,” he said to ttvnews.
With this in mind, the series had its worldwide premiere at the San Sebastian International Film Festival back in September as part of the Popular Section, where it was shown at the Antonio Elorza velodrome, the largest movie theatre in Spain with a 400 m2 screen and seats for 3,000 viewers.
And the quest for its international expansion led the creative duo to offer it to Netflix, but the platform decided it was too expensive for it to be its first Spanish project.
Second season in the works
As for the future, León revealed the story is thought of as a multi-season story, and that it already has the green light from Movistar to continue with a second installment.
“At first we conceived it as a four-episode miniseries, but then we determined half-hour episodes were better, because it’s a comedy and half-hours are better for comedy,” he said.
“So the episodes were multiplied by two: they were now eight and it was one season. But then we decided it wouldn’t end there, but that we should leave it open for more seasons and have a longer-running TV format,” he added.
According to the creator, they’re already thinking about a second season, because “there’s a lot that happened after that so we had the ground to continue inventing and the characters are set, they’re very much alive. Movistar already asked for it. We are sorting out the details but things would have to go terribly wrong for it to not happen,” he concluded.