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C4 backs new Baron Cohen and Andrew Newman indie

C4 backs new Baron Cohen and Andrew Newman indie
Jon Creamer
08 October 2015

Sacha Baron Cohen and former Objective Productions chief exec, Andrew Newman have launched Spelthorne Community Television, a UK based start-up indie backed by Channel 4’s Growth Fund.

Spelthorne Community Television, named after Ali G’s Staines hometown, will specialise in creating scripted TV comedy and comedy entertainment content with a focus on “innovation and new ideas”. Through the company the duo will “support new and emerging comedy writers and performers with bold ambition.” Baron Cohen and Newman first met when working on 1998 on Channel 4’s The 11 O’clock Show where the Ali G character first appeared on screen.

Sacha Baron Cohen said: “After more than a decade away from Channel 4, it’s very exciting to come back home and back to the British TV industry that launched my career and those of many of my contemporaries; Ricky Gervais, John Oliver and those blokes who did The Inbetweeners. All have gone on to have great success internationally. A little too much success if I’m honest.
“But this isn’t about people who are at the top of the pile and are coasting – this is a chance to help establish careers for ambitious people who have yet to make a mark in British television – I include amongst these, Andrew Newman, who, let’s face it, hasn't done a lot since he worked with me on The 11 O’Clock Show nearly 20 years ago.
“Ultimately our aim with Spelthorne Community Television is to discover new talent, develop new shows, then test them on UK audiences before we remake them, starring me, for the much more important US market.”
Andrew Newman said: “Just as Channel 4 backed Sacha’s edgy comic vision with Ali G, I hope that through the backing of the Growth Fund our new company will be able to do the same for other people with fresh ideas. Over the past six years I’ve had great fun producing ground breaking and innovative shows but setting up this business with Sacha is a brand new creative opportunity. We want to make top quality television across the board and with so many emerging platforms, now seems like a brilliant time to do it.”

Channel 4’s latest Growth Fund investment will see Channel 4 take a minority stake in the business with the collective mandate to help break a new generation of risk-taking comedy talent.
David Abraham, Chief Executive at Channel 4 said: “I’m thrilled to see Sacha and Andrew return to their Channel 4 roots where their special creative talent for making distinctive comedy was first nurtured. Spelthorne Community Television share the Growth Fund’s ambition to support innovative talent and we’re looking forward to working with them as they develop a business which invests in the next generation of unforgettable comedy shows and characters.”
Entertainment and media lawyer, Nick Swimer, brokered the deal between Channel 4 and Spelthorne Community Television.
Following this investment the corporation has a portfolio of nine UK based independent productions companies including Arrow International Media, Eleven Film, Lightbox Media, Popkorn Media, Renowned Films, True North Productions, Voltage TV Productions and sports indie Whisper Films.

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