Despite high-profile football matches aired on both evenings of the broadcast, the two-parter Side Effects still managed to score impressive ratings on ARD on Wednesday and Thursday evening. More than 7 million viewers on average followed the sensitively treated story directed by Adolf Winkelmann on each of the two evenings. On Wednesday nearly every fourth viewer (22.2%) watched, making Side Effects the day's winner in the overall target group. With over 2 million viewers on each evening, Side Effects was also the most highly watched fiction program in the advertiser-relevant 14-49 target group. Up to 17.2 % of all young viewers showed their interest in the high-quality TV movie on a subject from recent history.
The committed film succeeded in directing the public's attention once again to the thalidomide scandal of the 1950s and 60s, and thus to the question of society's responsibility towards the victims. The seemingly harmless sedative "Contergan", which contained thalidomide, was brought out on the market in 1957 and affected around the world approximately 10,000 children in their mother's wombs. Many TV documentaries and talk shows, as well as daily and weekly newspapers in Germany devoted themselves to this topic on the occasion of the broadcast and met with an enormous public interest. The talk show "Hart aber Fair" (Tough But Fair), which was shown after Part One of Side Effects, pulled in 4.73 million viewers and scored an impressive market share of 18.5% - its best result on the ARD to date. The "Contergan" report aired by the ARD after the second part was seen by 5.76 million viewers (19.5% market share).
Side Effects relates the drama of young lawyer Paul Wegener (Benjamin Sadler) and his wife Vera (Katharina Wackernagel), whose daughter is born with serious physical deformities after Vera takes only one single tablet of a sedative containing thalidomide during her pregnancy. Paul Wegener takes up the legal battle against the pharmaceutical concern.
Side Effects is a coproduction of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk with ARD Degeto, ZEITSPRUNG Film und TV Produktions GmbH and EOS Production GmbH & Co. KG. Beta Film handles the international sales.