Single-cam doc Lifeline follows the highly trained volunteers at Israel’s ERAN Association (Emotional First Aid), who receive calls from people in desperate situations. In some cases, actors (used to preserve anonymity) improvise off notes from selected real cases to bring them to life.
Storylines include that of Aref, a Druze manager at ERAN, who receives a call from a fellow Druze sent to murder his sister in the name of his family’s honor, and another featuring Marcella, whose own tragic story is recalled as she talks to an overworked and exhausted medical intern. Another follows branch manager Lydia, who decides to celebrate a holiday evening with a lonely elderly man, while Ziv is forced to weigh up violating anonymity to save a father calling in with suicidal intentions.
Yes will be in Cannes next month offering the series as a four-hour package, an eight half-hour series or a 74-minute feature doc, and is shopping format rights. Yes Doc and Banijay’s Endemol Shine Israel co-produce the Israeli show for Yes TV. Golan Rise and Sharon Yaish direct, with Guy Lavie and Keren Gleicher the executive producers.
Yes, best know for its scripted formats such as Fauda, has been pushing into factual under Managing Director Sharon Levi, who said: “Lifeline is a remarkable series, allowing viewers to sit right alongside volunteers for a privileged glimpse into the lives of these incredible people and the distressed callers they try to help. Relying solely on the voice on the line and the face and actions of the volunteer, these true stories successfully grip from the outset and keep you in suspense through their various twists and turns with surprise, shock, tears and relief all likely viewer outcomes from each of the narratives.
“Programming that explores mental health issues is of great interest at present so we are pleased not only to have a new take on a topical subject but to also bring series of different lengths as well as a feature option to the market, allowing buyers to choose the version that will work best for their viewers.”
She added the format “covers both universal and culturally specific problems and can be readily replicated at any helpline office around the world.”
Lifeline marks Yes Studios’ second major factual title following 44 Hours, a doc about a man who suffered from locked-in syndrome. The show was co-produced with German indie Neue Celluloid Fabrik Filmproduktion and sold to the likes of France’s ARTE and Germany’s SWR.
Yes’ calling card show, Fauda, is set to unexpectedly return for a fifth season on Yes, while the Indian remake on SonyLIV, Tanaav, is returning for a second run. The original Israel thriller drama’s first four seasons were a hit on Netflix. Neither Yes nor Netflix have officially greenlit season five, but Deadline understands it is proceeding.