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Production 100 2009 Back to Reports & survey Listing

Peer poll top 20

Wall to Wall, producer of Who Do You Think You Are? and New Tricks, wins the most votes in the Production 100’s Peer Poll of indies, while new entrants this year include Zig Zag, Talkback Thames, Tigress and Testimony


Which are the most admired indies in the UK? Every year the Production 100 survey asks indies to name the rival companies they most respect, allowing Televisual to compile an annual peer poll of the most admired outfits working in television.

We also ask indies to tell us what they think of their rivals, on a strictly off the record basis. The anonymous quotes throughout this article are taken directly from their comments.

Top of the list this year is Wall to Wall, the producer of the seminal genealogy format Who Do You Think You Are? and long-running drama New Tricks. Part of the Shed Media Group since its £25m acquisition in 2007, it is up from second place last year and is rated by many rivals for the “high quality”, “consistency”, “diversity” and “breadth” of its programming. Wall to Wall is renowned by fellow producers for “creating innovative, intelligent programmes” and “great formats.” Another indie thinks Wall to Wall “executes big ideas in a small indie way”.

Last year’s number one, Life on Mars and Spooks producer Kudos comes in second place this time. Part of Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group, Kudos is singled out for its “brilliant mainstream dramas.” “They have terrific drama producers,” says one indie, while another admires its “sheer output.” “Spooks is awesome,” comments a rival producer.
Shine Television, meanwhile, follows hard on Kudos’ heels in third place, up from 14th place last year. Many rivals vote for Shine on the back of its production of hit format MasterChef. Says one: “Formats like MasterChef seem to get better and better. Other rivals cite Shine’s “incredible growth and confidence”, the “scale of its production and its dynamic slate” and for “forging ties abroad,” a reference to its significant expansion into the US production market.

All3Media owned Objective is in fourth place, the same spot it held last year. The Peep Show producer is nominated for its “consistently clever and funny shows”. One rival votes for Objective because “they keep getting commissions”, while another plugs Objective “simply for their comedy output such as Star Stories.” They are “constantly getting good comedy commissions and making quality shows,” observes one producer.

Four indies take joint fifth place: Zig Zag, RDF Media, Love Productions and Company Pictures.
It’s been a good year for Zig Zag, which takes fifth place having missed out on a peer poll slot in 2008. The producer of Danny Dyer’s Deadliest Men and Macintyre’s Toughest Towns is respected for its “great sense of ambition” and for “building a clear position in the market over a long period.” Zig Zag “gets away with so much” notes one rival. Another indie producer comments: “They are quick to respond to opportunities like Five's fast turnaround documentaries.”

RDF Media’s reputation is also on the up after the disaster that was Queensgate back in 2007. The Secret Millionaire producer is rated for “a good mixed portfolio of programmes” and – in a comment that will surely please the RDF execs who were caught up in the fallout of the TV fakery scandal – for being “honest, straightforward and business-like.” RDF Kids, producer of CBeebies’ Waybuloo, is singled out “because they get stuff made and it’s pretty good too!”

Love Productions, the maker of Channel 4’s Boys and Girls Alone and Young Mum’s Mansion, once again makes the peer poll list. Just a few years old, Love Productions is credited for “taking difficult subject matters and giving them an entertainment skin to make them accessible.” Others cite its “impressive expansion, innovative programming ideas and execution” and “the monopoly they’ve achieved with BBC3!”

Drama producer Company Pictures, which makes Skins and is owned by superindie All3Media, also takes joint fifth place – one spot up from last year. It’s picked out simply for its “great drama” and its “quality scripts”.

Six indies share ninth place: Century Films, Darlow Smithson, October Films, Optomen, Tiger Aspect and Twofour.
Brian Hill’s Century Films, producer of BBC2’s Million Dollar Traders and C4’s Grierson-nominated Would You Save a Stranger, is recognised for “consistently great filmmaking” and “the quality of its output.” Its ninth place ranking marks a considerable climb from last year’s 16th position in the peer poll.

Miracle of the Hudson Plane Crash producer Darlow Smithson, owned by IMG Media, is cited by one indie “because they work hard and create great content.” Another adds simply, “We like their work.”

Factual producer October Films, meanwhile, is picked out for “reinventing themselves from highbrow terrestrial to low cost digital.” October’s “range” is cited by a rival, while it’s praised for “managing to maintain quality, while broadening their output to more fact entertainment formats.”

Optomen, maker of Kitchen Nightmares and Mary, Queen of Charity Shops, appears on the Peer Poll top 20 list once again. Rivals respect it for “great formats and the ability to attract high end talent” and “outstanding event programming that works.” Other comments about Optomen include the fact that “they keep coming up with new talent” and “have growing output in a declining market.”

Tiger Aspect, meanwhile, is also picked out in the Peer Poll. The producer of the recently axed Robin Hood has been in the press for making a number of job redundancies, but it’s still regarded as a “good company” by one indie and picks up votes from numerous others.

And Plymouth-based Twofour, producer of Five’s The Hotel Inspector, picks up votes for being an “impressive regional indie.” It also impresses for the “good pursuit of well-defined strategy” and for “producing to a high standard consistently.”
Moving on, six indies share fifteenth place: Endemol, Dragonfly, Testimony, Talkback Thames, Tigress and Windfall.
Big Brother and Hole in the Wall producer Endemol is picked out for “the scale of its productions” and for its “original ideas.”
And Dragonfly, producer of Channel 4’s The Family, is the third of the Shine Group indies to make the poll. “It’s very much in demand – an enviable position to be in.”

Meanwhile, Bristol-based Testimony Films, producer of C4’s The Angels of Edgware Road is named by rivals “because they are true to their core values.” Furthermore, its “material is always painstakingly researched.”

Britain’s Got Talent producer Talkback Thames is cited “for the diversity of its entertainment portfolio.”

Another Bristol outfit, Tigress, also makes the poll. The third of IMG Media’s indies to feature in the peer poll, it is rated by fellow producers for “putting plenty of money on screen” and for “diversifying from its natural history base to become a larger and more successful company.”

And Windfall Films, producer of Channel 4’s The Operation: Surgery Live, is respected by rival companies for their “innovative approach across everything they do.”

1      Wall to Wall
2      Kudos
3      Shine
4      Objective
5=    Company Pictures
5=    Love Productions
5=    RDF Media
5=    Zig Zag
9=    Century Films
9=    Darlow Smithson
9=    October Films
9=    Optomen
9=    Tiger Aspect
9=    Twofour
15=   Endemol UK
15=   Dragonfly
15=   Testimony Films
15=   Talkback Thames
15=   Tigress
15=   Windfall

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