Deadline can reveal that Theroux has established Mindhouse Productions alongside his executive producer Arron Fellows, ending a contractual relationship with the BBC that spans more than two decades.
Theroux and Fellows each own 40% of the newly incorporated company, while Theroux’s wife, TV director Nancy Strang, owns the remaining 20% and is also named as a director.
Theroux got his break in TV through Bowling for Columbine director Michael Moore on TV Nation and went solo for the first time with the BBC on Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends in 1998.
He has worked with the public broadcaster ever since, famously spending time with the likes of Jimmy Savile, the late British TV presenter accused of raping children, and getting under the skin of major U.S. cultural issues like drug addiction in films such as Louis Theroux: The City Addicted to Crystal Meth.
The BBC was keen to point out that it will continue to make documentaries with Theroux, potentially heading off further speculation that he will sign an exclusive deal with Amazon or Netflix, where much of his back catalog is available for subscribers.
It comes as the BBC has made a big play of clinging on to British talent amid intense competition from the streamers, with Amazon scooping up Fleabag writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Netflix signing an overall deal with The Crown creator Peter Morgan.
A BBC spokeswoman said: “Louis and the BBC have a strong and long-standing relationship. We look forward to continuing to work together and already have exciting projects in development for next year.”
A spokeswoman for BBC Studios, which has housed Theroux’s projects for more than 20 years, added: “We love working with him and hope to again in the near future.” BBC Studios could potentially take a stake in the company, but Theroux is yet to make a decision on investment.
The multi-hyphenated confirmed he was setting up an indie at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in August, joking that it might be called Theroux the Looking Glass. He said the company will make documentaries with and without his presence on screen.
“We will make shows that are similar to the sorts of things I’ve done in the past but not necessarily with me in it — first-person docs that go to extremes and also stories without me that cover similar terrain,” he said.