EXCLUSIVE: Fremantle is planning to once again merge Britain’s Got Talent producer Thames with Talkback under a restructure that will be unveiled in the coming months.
Deadline understands plans are being drawn up to consolidate Fremantle’s UK entertainment labels, with the coming together of the two stalwart British production houses a strong possibility. The Apprentice producer Naked, which was merged with Fremantle stablemate Boundless in 2020, could also be brought within the newly-merged entity.
If rubberstamped, Deadline understands a label boss will be hired to oversee the new Talkback Thames shingle and a redundancy process will likely take place. We revealed late last month that Thames MD Amelia Brown is exiting after two decades to set up her own production company, while Naked MD Fatima Salaria is also departing shortly.
If the plans are pushed through, the move will be the third time Thames has been combined with Talkback. They were first brought together in 2003 before being de-merged a decade on. Another merger then took place in 2017 but was reversed just two years later.
The merger would once again forge a mini entertainment powerhouse.
Thames produces Simon Cowell’s ITV hit Britain’s Got Talent (with Cowell’s Syco label) and could be prepping a return for The X Factor, while Thames and Talkback co-produce Netflix smash Too Hot to Handle. Other individual label credits include I Can See Your Voice, QI and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, while shows in the works include ITV format Mamma Mia! I Have a Dream (Thames) and Sky’s On Demand (Talkback).
RTL-owned Fremantle is undergoing major shifts as the producer/distributor targets revenues of €3B ($3.2B) by 2025. A recent Deadline analysis estimated Fremantle has spent €250M ($270M) on 11 companies in the past two years.
The outfit has snapped up the likes of Italian indie Lux Vide, Normal People producer Element Pictures and UK docs indie 72 Films. Incidentally, 72, which Fremantle valued at nearly £70M ($85.4M), is pushing into entertainment by forging big-budget James Bond competition format Road to a Million for Prime Video with MGM Television, which is being produced by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.
Referring to acquiring new labels around the world, Andrea Scrosati, Fremantle’s Chief Operating Officer and Continental Europe CEO, recently denied to Deadline that consolidation is on the agenda.
“We have never changed names, incorporated companies or canceled brands or canceled cultures,” he said.
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