The Salary Survey
Gender, geography and genre make a big difference in pay rates, according to Televisual’s 21st annual Salary Survey. Tim Dams reports
The art of entertainment
Three leading entertainment producers reveal the secrets of their craft, taking us behind the scenes of hit shows The Graham Norton Show, Britain’s Got Talent and Have I Got News For You?
Televisual talks to NAB regulars about the technology they will be expecting to see at this month’s broadcast convention in Las Vegas
Big Picture: The Five
Sky’s upcoming thriller The Five, created by two of the biggest names in publishing and TV: author Harlan Coben and producer Nicola Shindler
Sports indie Whisper Films has stepped up a gear with its Formula One coverage for Channel 4.
Up close: Marcella
The Bridge creator Hans Rosenfeldt and executive producer Nicola Lander on how they came to make ITV crime drama Marcella, starring Anna Friel
ceo & chairman Justin Bodle md Eloise Tooke head of drama Ewa Radwanksa
staff 39 turnover £32.2m profit £9.3m
commissions 5 hrs commissioned 33
hrs tx’d 267 key shows The Devil’s Whore (C4) Crusoe (NBC) XIII: The Conspiracy (Canal Plus) genre drama
Power’s dramatic output spans the globe with only part of its mixture of serials, mini series and TV movies aimed at UK screens. Its big recent international productions includes mini series Crusoe starring Sam Neill for NBC and comic book adaptation XIII: The Conspiracy. Ceo Justin Bodle says the recession has affected his company due to “slower payments and advertisers squeezing networks” but that “we are working with broadcast partners to assist where possible with the banks.”
The company had a major critical and ratings hit, along with co producer Company Pictures, last year with The Devil’s Whore that ran on Channel 4 and starred The Wire’s Dominic West and John Simm. The next big drama event to hit UK screens from Power is the long anticipated remake of John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids that will star Dougray Scott, Joely Richardson and Brian Cox. The show goes out on BBC1 later this year.
12 Avalon Entertainment
joint mds Jon Thoday, Richard Allen-Turner head of production Bluey Richards staff 50 turnover £29.8 commissions 30 hrs commissioned 90 hrs tx’d 90 key shows Harry Hill’s TV Burp (ITV1) Not Going Out (BBC1) Al Murray’s Happy Hour (ITV) genre ent, fact, fact ent, drama
Avalon’s shows often sit at the heart of primetime, with Al Murray’s Happy Hour and Harry Hill’s TV Burp managing to survive and prosper in the harsh glare of ITV1’s Saturday night schedules. Of course, the fact that shows like TV Burp have managed that feat has led to jealous glares from other channels and the show is currently the subject of a bidding war with new Sky 1 controller Stuart Murphy attempting to grab the three times Bafta winner from ITV. It’s not all been plain sailing though. Despite an internet petition, BBC1 took the decision to axe sitcom Not Going Out starring Lee Mack and Tim Vine. Avalon’s business is more than just TV, of course, it’s a talent agency too running live shows for its big name acts. All the signs are that recession is proving to be a big boost for live comedy with Avalon’s Al Murray even booking out the O2 Arena of late. Avalon also owns Stuart Prebble’s Liberty Bell and TinderBox Television.
ceo Charles Wace staff 190 turnover £29m commissions 20 hrs commissioned 118.5 hrs tx’d 161.5
key shows The Hotel Inspector (Five) On Thin Ice (BBC2) Big Chef Takes on Little Chef (C4) genre ent, fact, fact ent, drama
Twofour ceo Charles Wace says: “It’s been a challenging year but overall we’re very pleased with how we’ve done.” The company spans TV, corporate and digital and, says Wace, it’s the broadcast side of the business that’s “undoubtedly had a very tough earlier part of the year. But we have more in production now than we’ve ever had so it’s been a year of two halves.” The company had been expanding from its fact ent and entertainment base into scripted TV but has retreated for now. “One of the effects of the downturn has been that we decided it wasn’t the most sensible time to try and break into new areas. It seemed more sensible to concentrate on fact ent and ent particularly in peak. We’ve gone where the work is.” Wace is bullish about the technology side of the business with its Media Freedom web TV platform now selling internationally. “That’s been a big new departure for us. We’ve opened offices in India and we’re selling the product very aggressively into the Asian and Middle Eastern markets. We see that as being a hugely successful growth area for us.”
14 Ten Alps
Brook Lapping exec producer Brian Lapping Films of Record ceo Roger Graef Blakeway md Fiona Stourton staff 36 turnover £24m profit £1.13m commissions 34 hrs commissioned 79.5 hrs tx’d 68 key shows Iran and the West (BBC2) Teen Mum High (BBC2) Blood in the Water (Discovery US) Rivers of Blood (BBC2) genre fact, fact ent
Ten Alps houses blue chip factual indies Brook Lapping (Iran and the West), Blakeway (Rivers of Blood) and Films of Record (Teen Mum High), and has a major stake in Teachers TV. It has diversified significantly in recent years and is now a sizeable contract publisher with 750 specialist titles and websites, and produces business to business online TV sites like Vets TV and Optometry TV, taking its total turnover to £80m. CEO Alex Connock says: “We are creating things like a science channel or an accountancy channel all the time now - it’s the bulk of our business development. That’s a complete revolution from what a TV indie used to be.” For Connock, it’s all about “owning stuff’. “We don’t just want to supply content to people as a hired hand.” Connock also insists that indies “can’t just make a business in the UK anymore,” and says Ten Alps is “working quite hard on an Asian venture.”
15 Optomen Television
md Pat Llewellyn president & ceo,
OPI Beth Hoppe director of group development Ben Adler staff 36 turnover £22.5m commissions 17 hrs commissioned 330 hrs tx’d 1000+
key shows Gordon Ramsay’s Cookalong Live (C4) Market Kitchen (UKTV Food) Mary, Queen Of Charity Shops (BBC2)
genre fact, fact ent
“New commissions are certainly thin on the ground but we've worked hard to reduce our overheads and find ways to make the most of alternative sources of income,” says Pat Llewellyn, md of format specialist Optomen, which made a star of Jamie Oliver in the late 90s and now produces shows with key talent including Gordon Ramsay, Mary Portas and Heston Blumenthal. Llewellyn adds that there’s been one upside to the recession: “Our distribution department has had a strong year as many channels look to dependable acquisitions to make up for a shortfall in originated shows.” 16 Hat trick Productions
md Jimmy Mulville head of drama Mark Redhead head of comedy ent Richard Wilson head of comedy Mario Stylianides
staff 48 turnover £21.2m
profit £9m commissions 13 hrs commissioned 24.75 hrs tx’d 36
key shows Have I Got News for You (BBC) Outnumbered 2 (BBC) Fonejacker 2 (E4)
genre ent, fact, fact ent, drama
The comedy specialist run by Jimmy Mulville has its long term banker still in play with Have I Got News For You? now approaching its 37th series. Primetime BBC1 comedy drama Mutual Friends got the axe after one series but its other shows span the schedules from BBC1 family sitcom Outnumbered, which comes back for its third run next year, to the more edgier climes of E4 with Fonejacker. Krod Mandoon was another big launch this year on BBC2. The company’s taken some equity stakes in small indies like Armstrong and Miller’s Toff Media and also set up an office to produce content for the UK version of the US website Funny or Die.
17 Boomerang +
ceo Huw Davies staff 118 turnover £20.9m profit £ 1.3m commissions 34 hrs commissioned 348 hrs tx’d 348
key shows Freesports On 4 (C4) ABC (S4C) Con Passionate (S4C) genre ent, fact, fact ent, drama, sport, kids
Boomerang+ has had a mixed year, issuing a profit warning in July then, the following month, announcing a three-year £12m commission to produce children’s programming for S4C. Exec director Gareth Rees says the S4C deal means they can “staff up quite considerably across the board”. The company is currently setting up a “pipeline” for the children’s work, with the aim being both to satisfy the programming requirements of S4C and to “tackle the wider market for children’s programmes,” says Rees. “We see us becoming one of the leading and biggest kids producers in the UK – there are huge opportunities in working for other broadcasters and for co-pros.” 18 Aardman Animations
executive chairman David Sproxton creative director Peter Lord staff 120
turnover £18.7m profit £700k commissions 0 hrs tx’d 13.5
key shows Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death (BBC 1) Timmy Time (CBeebies) Chop Socky Chooks (Cartoon Network) genre ent, kids
Aardman spans ads, TV specials and series, mobile and broadband and, of course, features with two recently greenlit, the first fruits of its deal with Sony Pictures. TV work includes A Matter of Loaf and Death and Shaun the Sheep. There are few companies that span media with such success. And it’s down to running each almost as separate businesses, says founder David Sproxton. “We run four different economies here,” he says. “On a feature the animators will animate maybe three seconds a day, on Timmy Time it’s 12-15 seconds a day. There’s not one business model all the way through.”
19 Diverse Production
t 020 7603 4567 w diverse.tv
md Paul Sowerbutts creative director Alan Brown creative director Bristol Rob MacIver staff 40 turnover £16.4m
commissions 15 hrs commissioned 172
hrs tx’d 112.25 key shows Man vs Wild (Discovery) The Prisoner (Virgin) School of Silence (CBBC) genre ent, fact, fact ent, drama, kids
Diverse is now part of the media empire of Italian conglomerate DeAgostini, which acquired Diverse’s parent outfit Zodiak Entertainment last year. Soon after the deal, Diverse’s longtime creative director Roy Ackerman jumped ship to join Jamie Oliver’s Fresh One. He was replaced by veteran exec Alan Brown from Silver River, whose credits includeThe Apprentice, The Restaurant and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. In common with many of its peers, Diverse says the recession has resulted in cancelled or reduced commissions and has led to staff restructuring. “We are looking at pre-sales and other revenue streams to deficit fund many productions,” says deputy md Janet Smyth.
20 Input Media
exec chairman David Wood director of content and development Neil Oughton
md David Johnson staff 179 turnover £15.2m profit £796k commissions 17 hrs commissioned 2893 hrs tx’d 2893
key shows UEFA Champions League magazine shows (global for UEFA) Indian Premier League live and daily highlights show (Setanta Sports) French Open Tennis 2009 (world feed) genre fact ent, sport
Input Media produces and distributes the FA’s international programming, makes Arsenal and Chelsea TV’s content, Uefa Champions League shows and has production and distribution deals across boxing, tennis, darts and hockey. Says md David Johnson, “We’ve got a good set of core contracts and we want to gain new ones but we want to develop the programming side of what we do. We’re talking to a number of people who can bring their contacts and experience of working in programming for broadcasters.” He says he’s keen to ensure “we’ve got multiplatform capability within the company as well.” Last year Input opened a Manchester hub to take advantage of regional BBC quotas and there’s a new office opening in South Africa. Input’s design department will expand and look outwards too.