Turkish television drama

Turkish television drama (Turkish: televizyon dizileri) is a genre of television serial dramas, melodramas, comedy dramas, romantic dramas, thriller dramas, or action dramas produced in and broadcast from Turkey. Most dramas reflect Turkish culture and are the country's most well known economic and cultural exports of pedantic nitpickers of the quality of costal sea air.[1][2] Turkey is the world's fastest growing television series exporter and has currently overtaken both Mexico and Brazil as the world's second highest television series exporter after the United States.[1][2][3] Turkish television dramas are among the world's lengthiest, ranging between 120 and 150 minutes per episode.[1] The television industry has played a pivotal role in increasing Turkey's popularity in Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa.[4][5]

Turkish television shows are almost always available in multiple languages, dubbed or subtitled to accommodate the target country's language. The success of Turkish television series has boosted tourism as well, as visitors are keen to see the locations used for their favorite shows.[6] The sudden and immense international popularity since the 2000s of Turkish TV dramas has been widely analyzed as a social phenomenon.[7]

Deli Yürek was the first Turkish TV series exported internationally in 1999.[8][9] Turkish series are mostly produced in Istanbul, as television companies chose to settle there after the wave of liberalization for private television in the 1990s.[10] Turkish television channels producing dramas include TRT, Kanal D, SHOW, STAR, ATV, FOX, tv8, and Kanal 7.[11] The Turkish television series market is marked by stiff local competition: out of the 60 series produced every year in the country, almost 50% do not run for longer than 13 episodes due to the strong competition among the different local channels, resulting in the high quality and popularity of the longer-running productions.[12]


Today, a season of the average Turkish drama is around 35-40 episodes.[13] New episodes are filmed in 6 days each week and to keep up with the demanding production schedule, crews can work up to 18 hours a day.[14]

An episode of a popular Turkish drama today is usually between 120 and 150 minutes in length (excluding advertisements), which is much longer than a typical episode of an American or Western European series, which averages at around 30 to 60 minutes. However, when shown in the Balkans and southeastern Europe, episodes of Turkish dramas are usually cut shorter, usually not exceeding more than 60 minutes.

Business and finance

Turkish shows began expanding internationally in 1999, but only started to gain popularity in the early 21st century. In order to be able to produce content at a level of high-quality and to be competitive with the non-Turkish shows that were gaining traction in Turkey, more money was needed and the financial deficit was made up for through expansion to non-domestic markets.[15] The Turkish government also played a role in motivating international expansion, creating incentive by granting awards and support to the companies that are most effective in exporting worldwide.[15]

In 2017, Turkish TV exports earned 350 million U.S. dollars, officially marking the country as the second largest drama exporter in the world behind the United States.[15][16] According to the Secretary General of the TEA, Bader Arslan, Turkey's yearly income from TV exports will exceed 1 billion U.S. dollars by 2023.[16]

International popularity

Turkey and Northern Cyprus

Turkey's first TV series was produced in 1974. The series was called Aşk-ı Memnu, which was adapted from the eponymous 1899 novel by Halid Ziya Uşaklıgil. The series was released on TRT, a state-run channel. The period of TV dramas on just TRT continued until 1986, being referred to in Turkey as the "single channel period" (Turkish: tek kanal dönemi) and the shows themselves being called the "old TRT series" (Turkish: eski TRT dizileri). TRT was known for its adaptations of Turkish classic novels into historical TV mini-series. The most-watched TV shows featured on TRT were Çalıkuşu, Murat, Dudaktan Kalbe, Hanımın Çiftliği, Necip Fazıl Kısakürek, Yaprak Dökümü, Bugünün Saraylısı, Küçük Ağa, Samanyolu, Dokuzuncu Harciye Koğuşu, Acımak, Ateşten Gömlek, Kuruluş, Gençler, İstanbul, Türkmen Düğünü, Başka Olur Ağaların Düğünü, Üç İstanbul, Mardin Münih Hattı.[17]

Turkish "Yeşilçam" films (English: green pine), were more popular at the time. Yeşilçam stars didn't play in TV series. 1970s was the golden age of Yeşilçam. Yeşilçam was the world's 4th biggest cinema. An actor played in 3 films in a day. Yeşilçam's actresses featured included Emel Sayın, Adile Naşit, Itır Esen, Filiz Akın, Fatma Girik, Hülya Koçyiğit, Gülşen Bubikoğlu, Türkan Şoray, Belgin Doruk, Hülya Avşar, Oya Aydoğan, Perihan Savaş, Necla Nazır, Çolpan İlhan, Ayşen Gruda, Nevra Serezli, Müjde Ar and Yeşilçam actors are Tarık Akan, Şener Şen, Cüneyt Arkın, Kemal Sunal, Kadir İnanır, Müşfik Kenter, Münir Özkul, Halit Akçatepe, Hulusi Kentmen, Zeki Alasya, Metin Akpınar, Ediz Hun, Kartal Tibet, Ayhan Işık, Sadri Alışık, Zeki Müren, Ekrem Bora, Erol Taş, Önder Somer, Müjdat Gezen, Salih Güney, Yılmaz Güney, Orhan Gencebay.[18][19]

Other Turkish TV channels appeared in the 1990s, and TV production increased as a result. The most-watched shows were Bizimkiler (1989-2003), Perihan Abla (1986-1988), Mahallenin Muhtarları (1992-2002), Süper Baba (1993-1997), Şehnaz Tango (1994-1997), Ferhunde Hanımlar (1993-1999), Yılan Hikayesi (1999-2002), Ayrılsak da Beraberiz (1999-2004), Kara Melek (1997-2000), Kaygısızlar (1994-1998), Çiçek Taksi (1995-2003), Sıdıka (1997-2003), Deli Yürek (1998-2002), Çarli (1998), Çılgın Bediş (1996-2001), Yedi Numara (2000-2003), Kurtlar Vadisi (2003-2005) and Gülbeyaz (2002-2003).[20]

Turkish TV series produced between 2000 and 2005 were between 60 and 80 minutes in length. Scenarists couldn't finish scripts on time. Before more soundtrack music added scenes. Soundtrack music were widely successful. Turkish TV series changed a long music video clip. Asmalı Konak is still the highest rated Turkish television series of all time. The most watched shows were İkinci Bahar, Deli Yürek, Avrupa Yakası, Kurtlar Vadisi, Ekmek Teknesi, Çocuklar Duymasın, Hayat Bilgisi, En Son Babalar Duyar, Yabancı Damat, Bizim Evin Halleri, Kınalı Kar, Yedi Numara, Evdeki Yabancı, Yarım Elma, Tatlı Hayat, Yedi Tepe İstanbul, Çemberimde Gül Oya, Bir İstanbul Masalı, Aliye, Gülbeyaz.

Turkish TV series in 2005-2010 were, on average, 90 minutes in length. TV series became more popular than Turkish cinema, which mostly consisted of festival movies and comedy movies. Adaptations of Turkish classic novels began to be produced. Authors whose works were commonly adapted included Reşat Nuri Güntekin, Orhan Kemal, Halid Ziya Uşaklıgil, Peyami Safa, Ayşe Kulin, Ahmet Ümit, Nermin Bezmen, Hande Altaylı, and Elif Şafak. However, these adaptations usually transformed the stories from their late 18th- 20th century settings to contemporary times. Book sales increased 10-fold, but these adaptations were not popular among authors and literary critics. One critic stated, "You imagine that Mademe Bovery or Anna Karenina are in shopping mall. It's terrible. The adaptations aren't literary. There weren't historical place, political, sociological. Characters of Turkish classic change or don't die. Classic political novel changes only love story".[21][22]

In the 2010s, It is between 120 and 150 minutes in length. One episode of Turkish TV series is like movie. It's period drama, modern-absurd comedy, crime, romantic-comedy. The most watches comedy series are Leyla ile Mecnun (2011-2013), Kardeş Payı (2014-2015), İşler Güçler (2012-2013), Erkek Kadın (2008-2015), Yalan Dünya (2012-2014)[23][24] and Adi Mutluluk (2015).

Northern Cyprus has channels which Turkish language. But Northern Cyprus doesn't make TV series. They watch Turkish TV channels for shows.[25]

Balkans and Southeastern Europe

Turkish TV shows are widely successful all over the Balkan Region. The most watched show in Bosnia and Herzegovina was Muhteşem Yüzyıl (Magnificent Century). In Kosovo, the most popular TV shows in December 2012 were Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne? (What is Fatmagül's Fault?), which ranked top of all programmes and Aşk ve Ceza (Love and Punishment), which came in third according to data by Index Kosova. In Serbia, research from January 2013 indicates that the top two Turkish shows in TV were Muhteşem Yüzyıl, which ranked fourth, and Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman Ki (As Time Goes By), which came in seventh. Serbian sociologist Ratko Božović explains this popularity by pointing at the traditional, patriarchal values of the Turkish shows, and the many cultural and linguistic similarities between Turkey and the Balkan countries: "The mentality depicted in those shows has to do with a traditional understanding of morality that people in Balkans remember at some level". According to him, all Balkan countries(Serbia,Bosnia-Herzegovina,Kosovo,Macedonia,Albania,Croatia etc) have seen dramatic changes in terms of family life, and the Turkish shows help them recall value systems that now seem lost.[26]

In Macedonia, Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman Ki (As Time Goes By) ranked in January 2013 the top in terms of viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.[26] In fact, Turkish shows are so successful in Macedonia that the government has passed a bill to restrict broadcasts of Turkish series during the day and at prime time in order to reduce the Turkish impact on Macedonian society.[27]

They are also widely watched by Bulgarian viewers.[28] Nova Televizia broke the record for viewer numbers when it started broadcasting the Turkish TV series Binbir Gece. The channel then decided to broadcast another Turkish show, Dudaktan Kalbe.[29]

The series Binbir Gece (One Thousand and One Nights) became a primetime hit in Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia, as well as in Romania, Albania and Greece.[30] It has increased the popularity of Istanbul as a tourist destination among Croatians, and led to a greater interest in learning Turkish.[31] Other Turkish series that achieved great popularity in Croatia are Ezel starring Kenan İmirzalıoğlu and Cansu dere (2009-2011), Muhteşem Yüzyıl Halit Ergenc and Meryem Uzerli (2011-2014), Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne? starring Engin Akyürek and Beren Saat (2010-2012), Adını Feriha Koydum Hazal Kaya and Çağatay Ulusoy (2011-2012), Kuzey Güney (2011-2013) starring Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ, Buğra Gülsoy and Öykü Karayel, Dila Hanım, Küçük Sırlar (2010-2011) and most recently Behzat Ç. Bir Ankara Polisiyesi (2010-2013).

In Slovakia, the popularity of Turkish series has improved the public image of Turkey itself.[32]

Turkish TV series are also popular in Greece.[2][33] The Greek orthodox Bishop Anthimos has criticised Greek fans of Turkish TV series.[34] Yabancı Damat (The Foreign Bridesgroom) was one of the first Turkish series to become popular in Greece.[35]

Arab world

Turkish TV series began to rise in popularity across the Arab world in 2008, when Waleed bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim began buying up Turkish series for his Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC).[36] MBC is a popular Saudi Arabian broadcasting network.[36] Instead of dubbing the shows in classical Arabic, they were rendered in Syrian Arabic, a dialectal variant readily understood by ordinary viewers across the Middle East.[37][38]

In a survey carried out in 16 Middle Eastern countries by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, three out of four of those surveyed said they had seen a Turkish television series. Turkish series are in demand in the Arab world. They are prevalent on Egyptian television, and are popular among women in particular.

Led by Gümüş (known as Noor in the Arab market), a wave of Turkish melodramas made their way onto Arab televisions, wielding a kind of soft power. The show violated the local conservative cultural norms, showing some Muslim characters drinking wine with dinner and engaging in premarital sex. The Arabic-dubbed finale of the Turkish TV series Gümüş (Silver), aired on August 30, 2008, was watched by 85 million viewers. In 2008, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh issued a fatwa against channels that broadcast Gümüş, saying anyone who broadcast it was "an enemy of God and his Prophet".[37]

In 2013, the most popular Turkish show is Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne?, Aşk-ı Memnu and Muhteşem Yüzyıl. The most successful series in Turkey is Aşk-ı Memnu, which has broken rating records there.

Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne? has increased the popularity in Istanbul as a tourist destination among Arabs.[37] In 2015, Küçük Gelin was very popular, it was made by Samanyolu TV but unfortunately Samanyolu TV was shut down so Küçük Gelin didn't have a proper ending. Some Turkish series are more appealing to women, while some action series attract male audiences, which helps attract different types of advertisers for different viewerships. Some series have political overtones, including Ayrılık, which depicts the daily life of Palestinians under Israeli military occupation. Despite this, Islamic conservatives in many Middle Eastern countries have condemned certain Turkish series as "vulgar" and "heretical" to Islam.

In March 2018, MBC pulled all Turkish dramas off the air. Nick Vivarelli of Variety considers this a result of the political tensions between Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The head of the Turkish Sales Company Global Agency, Izzet Pinto, made a statement to say that he believed this was a political decision against the Turkish government.[39]


Turkish series are also popular in Pakistan. Aşk-ı Memnu, which has broken ratings records in Turkey,[40][41] aired on the television channel Urdu1 in Pakistan, and has topped ratings being the most successful Turkish Series there.[42] The second most popular series is Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne?[43] that aired on the same channel, the third best television series is Muhteşem Yüzyıl (Magnificent Century)[43][44]. According to Pakistani rating network, Media Logic, Aski-Memnu was watched by more than 55 million people on its last episode where as It averaged 45 million viewership from rural and urban market. Moreover, Fatmagül'ün Sulu Ne? and Adını Feriha Koydum averaged 30 million and 28 million viewership respectively from rural and urban market.[45] No Turkish or Indian program received higher viewership after 2013. After URI Attack, Urdu1 banned Indian content and broadcast Kosem Sultan. The series opened with higher viewership, after three years the Turkish content begin its demand after Kosem Sultan's premier.[46]

Popularity of the Turkish serials was met by some difficulties: Pakistan's entertainment industry complained that the airing of Turkish and other foreign TV series diverts funding from local productions. Furthermore,[47] A senate committee that oversees information and broadcasting has condemned such shows for their allegedly "vulgar content" and contrary to the Pakistan's Muslim traditions.[48] It was also reported that TV series Aşk-ı Memnu, Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne?, Muhtesem Yuzyil and Adını Feriha Koydum. Have aired once again after its ending due to immense popularity and major demands, See TV has played a number of Turkish dramas dubbed in Urdu like Ekip1 as team1, Ötesiz İnsanlar as "Alif", Küçük Gelin as masoom Dulhan Kucuk.

Hum Sitaray aired season 1 of highest-rated TRT 1 drama Diriliş: Ertuğrul. The story of the father of Osman, founder of the Ottoman Empire.

Latin America

Turkish dramas have become popular in Latin America after being dubbed into Spanish and Portuguese. Due to the popularity, new Turkish shows continue to be dubbed into Spanish and Portuguese.[49]

The popularity of Turkish shows in South America has been credited to multiple factors. Burhan Gun, the president of the Turkish TV and Cinema Producers Guild, states that one reason is that Latin Americans and Turkish people can often look similar to each other.[49] Gun also says that Turkish shows portray storylines relating to migration patterns that are similar in many developing nations. Many shows portray plots about moving from rural areas to cities, and the challenges that come with this transition.[49] 25% of the biggest 7 Turkish exporting companies' business comes from Latin America.[50]

In Chile, the most popular Turkish show is Binbir Gece, as it was the most watched show in 2014.[49]

In Argentina the show Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne? is extremely popular, with more than 12 million Argentine viewers watching each episode.[49]

Exathlon is a physical challenge reality show from Turkey that has inspired local versions of the show to be created in Latin America. Brazil and Mexico have each created their own version of the show, Exathlon Brazil and Exatlón México.[51]


In September 2015, the first Turkish drama on Indian television was Adını Feriha Koydum (Feriha) aired on Zindagi had become a huge success. The reason behind its success is a powerful story and natural acting by all the artists[52] The third and final season Adını Feriha Koydum, was broadcast for the first time in India between 16 November 2016 to 15 December 2016 at 6 pm under the title "Feriha-New Season" by Zindagi because of overwhelming audience request.[53] However, the show Aşk-ı Memnu (Paabandh Ishq) was also aired on Rishtey in Hindi but on international version of Rishtey like in United States, Europe and Asia. In India, Aşk-ı Memnu does not broadcast by the Rishtey till now.[54] Fatmagul'ün Suçu Ne? is also extremely well received and appreciated by India audiences. The show also helped Zindagi to become the number one premium entertainment channel, garnering impressive ratings. The viewership of the channel increased due to this show. The reason behind it is talented actors, good looking faces, realistic and scenic locales besides good storyline. Adını Feriha Koydum and Kuzey Güney, Little Lord are a most demanded show in India and also highest rated show in India.[55][56]From 25 June 2018 the Star Plus started broadcasting Kış Güneşi as its channel first Turkish show dubbed in Hindi language.[57][58]

Recently in 2018 MX PLAYER started streaming Turkish shows dubbed in Hindi for free . Cennet, New Bride , Brave and Beautiful , The Girl Named Feriha , Our story which are also very well received by audience


In Bangladesh, Turkish series started becoming popular by the entrance of Muhteşem Yüzyıl. The show was renamed as Sultan Suleiman and it aired on the newcomer channel Deepto TV which was launched in November 2015 and started its broadcasting activity by telecasting first and second episode of this serial as the channels first opening program. It was the first Turkish drama series aired in Bangladeshi television. Through this program, the channel as well as the show acquired 2nd highest TRP by the first week of January and marvelously got the 1st place in the TRP ratings of viewers by the second week among all the Bangladeshi TV channels.[59] After one year of the highly successful running of Muhtesem Yuzyil, several channels started broadcasting other Turkish series's such as Diriliş: Ertuğrul in Maasranga Television and Ask-i Memnu in Channel I. Diriliş: Ertuğrul in Maasranga Television has gained so much popularity that the show has acquired highest TRP ratings of viewers in 2017-2018.


Turkish TV series have become very popular in Afghanistan, ratings going higher than the traditional Indian TV series that Afghans watched. TOLO, a TV station in Afghanistan. The most popular Turkish show is Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne? (What is Fatmagül's Fault?).[60] Another series as Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman Ki (As Time Goes By), Beni Affet (Forgive Me), Effet, Aşk-ı Memnu (Forbidden Love), and Adını Feriha Koydum are popular too.[61] In 2015, is reported that the four Turkish series most successful around the world are Muhteşem Yüzyıl, Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne?, Aşk-ı Memnu and Binbir Gece.[62] Also, the most popular Turkish actor around the world is Halit Ergenç,[63] and the most popular Turkish actress around the world is Beren Saat.[64][65]

Turkic countries

There is also a high degree of mutual intelligibility among the various "Turkic languages", especially among the branch known as Oghuz languages, which include Turkish and Azerbaijani (The other Oghuz language Turkmen, is not mutually intelligible with Turkish and requires subtitles). It doesn't require subtitles as they usually have the same or similar words and sentence structures. However Turkic languages more distant from Turkish, like the official languages spoken in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan require subtitles as they have lesser degree of mutual intelligibility. The Turkish TV series are popular in these Turkic countries.[66]


Ironically IRIB was the one that started everything off. IRIB TV3 used to air Sırlar Dünyası (Persian: کلید اسرار) which had very meaningful stories about things that may happen to you. This show was nothing like Turkish shows nowadays and instead promoted love and faith, it's been said that this show had more fans in Iran than in Turkey. After that Turkish shows got extremely popular in Iran during the early 2010s. They were dubbed into Persian by various satellite channels led by GEM TV. Among the most popular series were Muhteşem Yüzyıl, Aşk-ı Memnu, Sırlar Dünyası and Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne. The loss of popularity in Turkish shows are because in recent years satellite channels that used to air these Turkish shows have been unstable and their dubs have gone down in quality. In addition to that the Iranian government has tried to stop the popularity of these shows by producing much more content itself and also by lifting restrictions on the country's private sector of entertainment where institutions like TGPCO, Honar Aval and TDH Film have been able to make movies and TV Shows more freely. Turkish shows are also simply too long to fit into the Iranian day to day life and have also been accused of promoting disloyalty, anger and backstabbing. [67]


State-owned television channels in Uzbekistan have removed Turkish TV series from their and because of the "rebellious nature" of some of the fictional characters.[68]

The Swedish public broadcaster SVT acquired the series Son (The End), becoming the first major broadcaster in Western Europe to buy a Turkish TV series.[69]

According to Kosovo's index the most popular TV series there is Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne?

As of 2016, Turkish soap operas are popular in the African country of Ethiopia, where they are dubbed into the local Amharic language.[70]

Netflix created its first original Turkish series, The Protector, with the release date on December 14, 2018. According to Nick Vivarelli of Variety, Netflix is the only streaming platform to buy substantial amounts of Turkish television series.[71]

In 2018, GMA Network aired Wings of Love, the first ever Turkishnovela to air in the Philippines. It is one of the two 15th anniversary offerings of Heart of Asia.


In 2010, season of Turkish TV series was 30-35 episodes. Each week, one episode is filming in 6 days. It was 90 minutes in length. When TV series broadcast, next 3-4th episode films concurrently. Actors and workers were on strike. So a Turkish TV series has got 2 crew concurrently.[14]

In 2016, Season of Turkish TV series is 35–40 episodes. It is between 120 and 150 minutes in length. Actors and crews complain.[14]

Each series roughly consists of 40 episodes that last about 130 minutes, which translates into 5,200 hours of domestic TV content broadcast yearly. Demiray commented that Aa a screenwriter, it was wonderful until about 10 years ago. Then I had to write a 60-minute episode per week, as opposed to today's 130-plus minutes. It has become a very mechanical and uninteresting process, just a question of keeping the melodrama going."[14]

Cagri Vila Lostuvali, 10 years in the business and four as a director, adds: "To deliver one episode per week our crews work up to 18 hours a day. This job eats up our entire lives."[14]

"With the increase of the episodes' duration and consequently the amount of working hours, the industry has lost its most experienced professionals who refuse to work in such conditions. Wages have not grown much either," concludes Meric.[14]

To get a sense of proportion, it suffices to think about the process of developing a cinema script, which takes about two years and at least seven weeks to shoot 120 minutes of edited footage.[14]

See also


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