Lionsgate UK is dipping its toes into the TV market for the first time by partnering with Channel 4 to co-finance and co-produce Jo Brand sitcom Damned alongside What Larks Productions. Lionsgate will sell rights worldwide.
Damned is a social services-themed comedy co-written and starring Brand and Alan Davies as social workers battling personal and professional battles as they fight to keep their social services office afloat in an age of austerity. Created by Brand, Will Smith (Veep) and actress Morwenna Banks, the show will be directed by Ian Fitzgibbon and exec produced by Claire Whalley. The six-part series starts shooting in the UK in early June, 2016. A one off special initially aired on Sky Arts in 2014. Channel 4 recently announced their commission of the series, led by C4’s head of comedy Phil Clarke and deputy head of comedy Nerys Evans.
The move reps the latest effort by Lionsgate’s UK office, led by chief exec Zygi Kamasa, to ground the company more closely to UK and Euro talent. The deal marks Lionsgate UK’s first investment in a solely UK commissioned production after recently announcing an equity stake in BAFTA winning TV production company Kindle Entertainment.
Last year, Lionsgate UK announced it would be financing and co-investing in at least 25 British films over the next four years. The re-affirmation of Lionsgate’s commitment to British film comes after the company had invested in and released more than 20 British features with a combined production budget of over $225 million.