The shopping spree by the production company of the UK’s leading private broadcaster continues with the acquisition of Big Talk, the producer of such award-winning comedy series as Rev for the BBC, Channel 4’s Friday Night Dinner and ITV’s recent sitcom The Job Lot, as well as films including Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, which Focus Features bows in the U.S. on August 23. ITV is buying 100% of the company, in which actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are shareholders. The initial payment is expected to be in the neighborhood of £12.5 million, depending on Big Talk’s 2012/13 financial performance, while additional payments will be made on the delivery of target profit growth over the next five years. In addition to ITV, News Corp. Shine also had been in discussions about acquiring Big Talk.
This is the latest buy for ITV, which has been beefing up its production portfolio over the past few months. In December 2012 it acquired a controlling interest in Gurney Productions (Duck Dynasty) followed by majority shares in Thinkfactory Media (Hatfields & McCoys) and High Noon Entertainment (Cake Boss). ITV also has controlling stakes in The Garden and So Television in the UK, Mediacircus in Norway and Tarinatalo in Finland. The company also has been mulling a £90M ($134M) takeover of Scandinavian Nice Entertainment.
Big Talk Productions was founded in 1995 by Nira Park, who produced Channel 4 comedies Spaced and Black Books. Kenton Allen joined as CEO from BBC Comedy in 2008, after BBC Worldwide took a 25% stake in the company, and he and Matthew Justice, Big Talk’s Managing Director, restructured the business and have been the driving force behind its rapid growth.