Amid rapid expansion, Colin Callender’s Playground Entertainment has hired Sophie Gardiner as Creative Director of Playground Television in the UK. Gardiner will develop and produce original British dramas and will assume an active role in the company’s existing and future co-productions. The exec is the former commissioning editor of drama at Channel 4 where she was responsible for such programs as My Mad Fat Diary, The Mill, Run, Southcliffe, Dates and International Emmy and Royal Television Society Award nominee Utopia.
Gardiner will report to Louise Pedersen who in October was named Managing Director of Playground’s UK operations. Pedersen has been tasked with expanding Playground’s existing footprint in the UK and overseeing day-to-day activities in the market. With Pedersen aboard, Playground will open offices in London in early 2015, at which point Gardiner will take up her new role.
“Sophie’s work at Channel 4 is a real testament to her keen sense of story, deep relationships with writers and great eye for new talent,” Callender said. “She will play an invaluable role in broadening the Playground slate and expanding our reach into the writing community.”
Playground already has a strong presence in the UK and is looking to grow with an expanded focus on British programming. The company was founded by Brit Callender in 2012 to produce drama for the screen and the stage via a mix of U.S. and UK talent from the worlds of theater, film, and television. It’s currently in post-production with Company Pictures on the six-part miniseries adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall starring Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis, Claire Foy and Jonathan Pryce and debuting on BBC One and PBS’ Masterpiece in 2015. It is also partnered with Charlie Pattinson’s New Pictures on The Missing, the eight-part thriller for the BBC and Starz.
On Broadway, Callender is a producer of Jez Butterworth’s The River currently starring Hugh Jackman. Other recent productions include Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy starring Tom Hanks; Casa Valentina from Harvey Fierstein; Tony Award-winning Hedwig And The Angry Inch starring Neil Patrick Harris; and Kenneth Branagh’s Macbeth at The Park Avenue Armory.