The giddying rise of Turkish television series

In the space of a single decade, Turkey has gone from being a country with a barren television landscape to being one of the largest exporters of soap operas and dramas in the world.

Photo by: Anadolu Agency
Photo by: Anadolu Agency

A breakthrough Ottoman series Diriliş (Resurrection), which was about the real life origin story of the Ottoman Empire, was an immediate hit when it was first launched in late 2014.

Updated Jan 30, 2017

ISTANBUL — Sultan Faizy never misses an episode of his favourite Turkish dramas. The 33-year-old watches them as soon as they are released in Turkish, via satellite television. Then he watches them again when they are dubbed into Dari, and aired on local Afghan channels, usually some months, or even years, later.

Turkish dramas and soap operas first began making inroads into foreign television markets, including Afghanistan, in 2007 and 2008. This was when Faizy discovered them. Until then, Indian television had dominated Afghan screens. But the new arrivals were an instant hit. Many Afghan viewers found they had more cultural and religious affinity for the new Turkish shows.

“If [a TV show] has some common ways of thinking with your society, then it is much more interesting to you,” Faizy said. “We have some common interests, some common culture with the Turkish people and Turkish society, such as our religion.”

It’s not only Afghanistan that has been taken by storm by Turkish TV shows. From Riyadh to Ashgabat to Sarajevo to Tunis to Islamabad, viewers are tuning in to a wide array of Turkish television, dealing with both historic and contemporary subjects.

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AUTHOR: Murat Sofuoglu