The increased consolidation of UK indies continues with acquisitions of stakes in two production companies made separately by Endemol Shine UK and FremantleMedia. Endemol has picked up a 50% share in Douglas Road, the outfit founded last year by actor and comedian Lenny Henry and BAFTA-winning producer Barbara Emile. Fremantle, meanwhile, has taken a 25% stake in just-launched Man Alive Entertainment, founded by Justin Gorman, the former head of entertainment at Channel 4. Fremantle has an option to increase its share in the future.
Douglas Road is focused on high-end TV across drama, comedy and factual. Its recent credits include the Sky Arts documentary When Lenny Got The Blues. It has a slate of other projects in advanced development. Henry, a vocal proponent of diversity and co-founder of Comic Relief, commented that Douglas Road “takes inspiration from the plethora of races, colors and creeds that co-exist in the British Isles today — these are cultures filled with drama, comedy, fun, excitement, magic, romance, sex and inspiration.” The deal will see new IP created for the UK market handled for worldwide distribution through Endemol Shine International.
Emile earlier in her career led enduring primetime soap EastEnders to ratings success with a peak audience of 23M viewers. Later, as an exec producer at BBC Drama she was responsible for a substantial portion of series output and recently worked with Canada’s Inner City Films developing a slate of contemporary dramas.
Gorman’s Man Alive Entertainment will develop and produce large scale entertainment and factual entertainment programming as well as reality, game show and quiz formats. His credits inlcude The Million Pound Drop Live, Alan Carr Chatty Man, and The Cube. Prior to Channel 4, he was exec producer at Objective Productions and Princess Productions.
Gorman, who becomes Creative Director and CEO of Man Alive, said, “We are a small but very experienced indie, with a great track record in creating award-winning entertainment formats and multi-screen content. I’m delighted to have the backing of FremantleMedia – its creative network is unrivalled and I look forward to creating some outstanding television content for the UK and the world.”
Hannah Dodson joins Gorman as Head of Development. She was previously part of Gorman’s team at Channel 4 and exec produced The Mash Up, Stand Up To Cancer and The Secret Policeman’s Ball.