Collective Media Group has been awarded its first commissions for ITV, after securing exclusive access to the story of Emma Samuel, the widow of the ex-Premier League ace Jlloyd Samuel, commissioned for ITVBe, as well as that of football scam artist Medi Abalimba, which is commissioned for ITVX.

The Footballer, His Wife and The Crash continues Collective Media Group’s push into telling untold stories from the world of sport.

With exclusive access to Jlloyd’s wife, Emma Samuel, and the people who had first-hand experience of the early Premier League era, the two-part documentary reveals the truth behind the story which has emerged since the player’s tragic death in 2018 when his Range Rover collided with a van and burst into flames, killing him instantly.

The film provides  insight into the world Jlloyd Samuel broke into as part of the first group of players to benefit from the big money TV deals that drove the ascendancy of the Premier League. Against the glamorous back-drop of the ascendancy of WAG culture, young players entered the game unprepared and ill-advised on how to handle their wealth.

Portrayed from the perspective of his wife and real life WAG Emma, this film will reveal how – following Jlloyd’s 2018 death, she discovered not only that Jlloyd had seriously mismanaged his Premier League fortune, but also that he had a secret second life.

The Footballer, His Wife and The Crash details how Jlloyd’s footballing dream that started on the streets of Bow in East London, became a nightmare, as gambling debts, injury and family tensions came to the fore – a cautionary tale of the reality of so many players, their wives and girlfriends and families in the newly glamorous first years of the premier league with the onset of big money deals and a culture of excess.

The Football Fraudster (1 x 90 mins) explores the story of Medi Abalimba, a former footballer who took on the identities of a Premier League star, rapper, MI6 agent and US Navy Seal. His sophisticated web of lies conned multiple victims – breaking hearts, stealing millions and destroying lives. With access to those scammed, this feature documentary will tell the story from the victims’ perspective, revealing the lengths Abalimba went to in his elaborate cons. Exclusive access to contributors such as ex-partner, Love Island’s Georgia Steel, who was also victim to his deceit, will aim to uncover not only how he was able to commit his crimes but also his motivations for doing so.

Claire McArdle, Co-ceo, Collective Media Group, says: “These are both remarkable and cautionary tales, and we would like to thank all who took part for sharing their experiences with us. Both are stories of our time – asking questions around how well we really know the people we build relationships with.

“I’m delighted that, in a short period of time, we have developed a reputation as the company who can get access to outstanding stories and world-class sporting talent.”

Both The Footballer, His Wife and The Crash and The Football Fraudster were commissioned for ITV and ITVX by Satmohan Panesar, Factual commissioning editor.

Satmohan said: “With the lives of the rich and famous mainlined into the consciousness of the public, these films go beyond the superficial glamour we see in our daily media diet and provide an insight into the human reality behind the scenes, revealing how the pressures of life in that world can lead to excessive behaviour, criminality and tragedy. These films will bring to ITV and ITVX the intimate perspective, inside access and dramatic human narrative that the best factual films can offer.”

The series is distributed internationally by Abacus Media Rights

Collective Media Group was launched in September last year by former ViacomCBS International senior execs Claire McArdle and Rebecca Knight. In February, the company announced its first feature, Brazil 2002: The Real Story, the tale of the team who were victorious at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, told from the dressing room, using six hours of unseen archive material shot by Brazilian football legend Juliano Belletti during the tournament. In May, it was announced that Collective Media Group had taken over production of Air Warriors, Smithsonian Channel’s hit programme, now in its 10th series. In June, Collective Media Group were confirmed as the producers of the televised coverage of the Icons Series golf event. This commission came off the back of the launch of Collective Media Sport, a new division which offers creative consultancy and production expertise to sports rights holders, governing bodies, clubs and brands, to help develop and distribute content around their IP.

The Footballer, His Wife and The Crash is produced by Arianna Perretta, directed by Benedict Adams and executive produced by Claire McArdle, Rebecca Knight and Sam Bickley for Collective Media Group.

The series is distributed internationally by Abacus Media Rights.

Pippa Considine

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