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BBC Worldwide and BBC Studios merge to become single entity



The BBC have announced that they will merge BBC Studios with BBC Worldwide to form a single commercial entity that from April 1st next year will be known as BBC Studios. This will bring the BBC into line with how most of the industry now works, integrating programme production, sales and distribution all under the one umbrella.

The new BBC Studios will be subject to the same rigorous Trading and Separation regulations regarding its interaction with the BBC Public Services as currently applies to the existing organisations, including clear operational and financial separation from the Public Service, publication of transfer pricing methodologies regarding trading with the Public Service, and regular financial reporting to Ofcom.

According to the BBC it will ensure they are best placed to succeed both creatively and commercially and will better serve licence fee payers by:

  • Creating a unified business with a single business plan and combined operating model better placed to support the full range of the UK’s creative talent, producing high quality, distinctive UK content in bases across the country.
  • Maximising the intellectual property value of BBC programming for the benefit of UK licence fee payers.
  • Supporting the UK creative economy by distributing British content as a cultural export and source of global influence.

The move will see the range of commercial activities already carried out by BBC Worldwide – including content financing, sales and commercial channels – and BBC Studios – the BBC’s main programme production arm – brought together in the simplified organisation with a single business plan and combined operating model. While BBC Studios and BBC Worldwide already work together closely – such as on current TV hit Blue Planet II which is produced by BBC Studios but which is over three quarters funded by BBC Worldwide and partners – joining forces will allow them to operate more simply and efficiently. All of the major established UK industry players integrate their programme production and distribution in this way.

The TV industry has been changing fast and major global players are investing vast sums in content – but not primarily in British content reflecting British lives. Recent research by consultants Mediatique earlier this month forecast that spending on British programming could fall in real terms by £500m over the next decade – posing a real risk to the volume and breadth of British content available, with a potentially damaging impact on distinctiveness, risk-taking and innovation. A successful new BBC Studios will be better placed to make the investments others will not.

Production arm BBC Studios is internationally recognised for making high-quality British programmes across a broad range of genres and specialisms. Boasting 81 awards so far this year, its output includes the highly acclaimed Blue Planet II, Strictly Come Dancing, Antiques Roadshow, EastEnders, Top Gear, the award-winning drama Three Girls, Louis Theroux’s latest documentary series and Drugsland on BBC Three.

BBC Worldwide has a strong track record in financing and commercially exploiting British IP across numerous markets and platforms, returning almost £1bn to the BBC in the past five years, to be reinvested into programmes for BBC audiences in the UK. It has invested in, marketed and distributed global hits from BBC Studios, including Planet Earth II, winner of the Outstanding Documentary Series Emmy in 2017, sold to 233 territories; Doctor Who, sold to 239 territories, Top Gear, sold to 241 and Strictly Come Dancing, internationally licensed 54 times as Dancing with the Stars.

BBC Director-General Tony Hall says: “In a fast-changing TV industry, securing the future success of the BBC is vital.

“Creating a single BBC Studios will bring the BBC in line with the industry, be simpler and more efficient. It will help ensure that licence fee payers in the UK continue to receive outstanding British programmes which reflect British lives, long into the future.

“It will also ensure the BBC can continue to play its crucial role in supporting the successful UK creative economy.”

The new BBC Studios will be led by Chief Executive Officer Tim Davie and Chief Creative Officer Mark Linsey.

Tim Davie says: “Creating one company, in line with market norms, is a natural step in this market.

“The new BBC Studios will be focused on the highest quality British content, underpinning our future financial return to licence fee payers. It will allow us to better serve customers, indie partners and the wider industry, resulting in world-class British productions for audiences in the UK and overseas.

“I am excited about the prospects ahead, and delighted to be part of the new organisation.”

Mark Linsey says: “Bringing BBC Studios and BBC Worldwide together will help secure the BBC’s future and guarantee our unrivalled creativity, risk-taking, quality and range.

“I am so proud of BBC Studios’ programmes – from huge hits like Blue Planet II and Strictly Come Dancing, to the extraordinary Drugsland and Murdered for Being Different on BBC Three, to EastEnders, Mrs Brown’s Boys, Our Girl, Carols from Kings, Antiques Roadshow, Countryfile and Horizon. We cater to every taste and this merger means that will continue for years to come.”



ITV, Kate Beckinsale to star in The Widow, a Harry and Jack Williams series




ITV Logo

ITV have announced that Kate Beckinsale will take the leading role in ITV and Amazon Prime Video Drama, The Widow, from acclaimed writers Harry and Jack Williams. The series will be produced in conjunction with Amazon Prime Video.

In The Widow Kate will play Georgia Wells who has her life turned upside-down with a phone-call in the middle of the night. Her husband of over 10 years, Will, has been reported dead after a plane crash in the Congolese jungle.

Three years later, with her old life now a thing of the past, Georgia learns something shocking. Something that will take her to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, looking to uncover the truth about his disappearance.

Still haunted by the past, Georgia is grieving for the man she loved and the life they’ve lost, but she hasn’t given up hope.

The Widow has been commissioned for ITV by Head of Drama, Polly Hill, who said: “I’m delighted to announce Kate Beckinsale’s casting in The Widow. She is perfect for the role of Georgia in what is, as always, brilliant, compelling and surprising storytelling from Harry and Jack Williams. We’re very pleased to have secured the series which is an ITV original commission and co-production with Amazon Prime.”

On behalf of Amazon Prime Video, Brad Beale, Vice President, Worldwide TV Content Acquisition said: “We are thrilled to continue our existing relationship with Kate Beckinsale on the heels of her incredible performances in Amazon Studios’ critically acclaimed films.”

“Harry and Jack Williams have created a powerful story, which will be brought to life by one of the world’s most talented actresses, and we are excited to bring this thrilling series to Prime members around the world,” he added.

Commented Harry and Jack Williams: “Kate Beckinsale is a brilliantly talented actress and we’re thrilled she’s joining us on this journey – we couldn’t imagine anyone more perfect for the role. The Widow is our most ambitious and cinematic piece to date and we can’t wait to bring the dark heart of the Congolese jungle to the screen.”

The Widow will be produced by Eliza Mellor (Liar, The Living and the Dead, Poldark, Death Comes to Pemberley) and will be directed by lead director Sam Donovan (Humans, Liar, Utopia) and Olly Blackburn (Donkey Punch, Glue) who is also directing four episodes of the series. Jack and Harry Williams will executive produce the drama.

The series will go into production in January 2018 in South Africa, Wales and Rotterdam.

The Widow will premiere on ITV before airing as an Amazon Prime Original in the US. The series will be available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories for members to watch via the Prime Video app for popular smart TVs, Fire TV, Fire Tablets and Android and iOS phones and tablets.

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Channel 9, Married At First Sight 2018 New Series Premieres 29 Jan




What started as something of a social experiment but is now more or less straight reality (but still calling itself a social experiment), Married At First Sight will premiere it’s new series on Channel 9 on Monday January 29 at 7.30pm.

Once again the team – relationship expert John Aiken, neuropsychotherapist Dr Trisha Stratford, and dating and relationship expert Mel Schilling – aim to put relationships to the test in a unique experiment designed to determine if science can predict true love in couples who will get married at first sight.

The experts will undertake the mammoth task of pairing 20 brave singles to create their perfect match as 10 brides and 10 grooms undergo the most intense experiment yet.

The experts will match all our couples on the basis of extensive psychological and neurological testing and profiling.

Married At First Sight 2018 Davina

Each couple meet for the first time on their wedding day, and from the moment they exchange vows their relationships are thrust under a microscope as they experience the highs and lows of marriage at full speed – alongside other couples riding the same rollercoaster.

Once again, the couples will reside under the same roof as relationships are tested like never before.

They’ll get the chance to compare their experiences at often explosive dinner parties – and put their relationships to the test at the most confronting commitment ceremonies we’ve ever seen.

But while some couples will struggle with all the complexities an intense relationship experiment brings, others will find true joy as their fairytale blossoms from first glance.

10 brides. 10 grooms. 10 weddings. Who will find true lasting love?

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Netflix, German Supernatural drama Dark given Second Season




Dark Netflix

Netflix has renewed its first German original production, DARK, for a second season. The acclaimed drama created by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese has resonated with audiences in Germany and around the world, including the U.S., Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Spain and France among other countries. DARK, a family saga with a supernatural twist, is now one of the most-watched entirely non-English shows on Netflix, a German series that transcends borders to connect with audiences in every country.

Kelly Luegenbiehl, Vice President of International Originals for Netflix, said: “When we first heard about DARK, we realized very early on that we hadn’t seen anything like this show before — in Germany or anywhere else in the world. DARK is a testament that great storytelling transcends geography. We’re excited that our members around the globe are captivated by the mysterious world of Winden, and will now be able to continue to see how the story unfolds.”

Showrunners Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese about the audience reception and the renewal of season two added: “We are overwhelmed by the response to DARK and are thrilled that our story has been a success with a global audience. Viewers have been captivated by the secrets of our protagonists and have taken delight in unravelling the various puzzles that the story presents. To know that we will now embark on our next journey is, for us showrunners, a dream come true. And our fans can be sure that we have plenty of surprises in store for the second season of DARK.”

Producer Quirin Berg concludes: “Jantje Friese, Baran Bo Odar, our wonderful actors and our fantastic team have put an incredible amount of energy into making DARK a unique and gripping series. We thank all of those who have accompanied us on this path. And we thank Netflix for their trust and for the excellent cooperation. We are extremely happy that DARK has by now received such an overwhelming response, both in Germany and around the world, and we are particularly thrilled about the quick decision by Netflix to take it into a second season. We can hardly wait to continue telling the story!”

DARK is now streaming on Netflix, it is set in a German town in present day where the disappearance of two young children exposes the double lives and fractured relationships among four families. In ten, hour-long episodes, the story takes on a supernatural twist that ties back to the same town in 1986.

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