BBC Studios backed Firebird Pictures has made two new appointments to its drama team, with Nikki Saunders joining from BBC Studios as Director of Production, and The Rig and Riches script editor Andin Ngwa as Development Executive.

The appointments come following recent greenlights for Wahala for BBC One and Wilderness for Amazon Prime Video,

Firebird has also secured the rights to two works: journalist Gavanndra Hodge’s memoir The Consequences of Love and young novelist Hannah King’s She and I – a Northern Ireland set crime thriller about the power of female relationships.

Firebird CEO, Elizabeth Kilgarriff said: “With two exciting primetime series commissions secured, we are busier than ever and our team is growing. We’re delighted to have Nikki join Firebird – her energy and extensive experience will be fundamental to our growth as we set up multiple productions around the world next year. Andin is one of the most in-demand script editors of the moment and we are incredibly fortunate to have her joining our development team to accelerate the growth of our ambitious and exciting slate.”

Saunders will become Firebird’s Director of Production having spent 15 years running operations across all continuing drama series at the BBC and working with the BBC Studios Birmingham Drama team to grow their business.

Ngwa worked in development at Hillbilly Films before moving on to script edit new supernatural thriller The Rig with Wild Mercury/Amazon and new ITV/Amazon drama Riches. She joins next year as Development Executive alongside recent addition Sarah Wyatt, previously Head of Development at Film Nation, who boosted the Indie’s development team earlier this year as Development Producer.

BBC Studios has a minority stake in Firebird, set up in 2019 by former BBC Executives Elizabeth Kilgarriff and Craig Holleworth, and is the global distribution partner for all its content. Firebird’s two series commissions – Wilderness adapted by Marnie Dickens for Amazon Prime Video and the Nikki May debut Wahala, adapted by Theresa Ikoko for BBC One will shoot next year in the US, Canada and London.

In The Consequences of Love, Gavanndra Hodge tells the story of her precarious Chelsea childhood. Her father was a hairdresser and drug dealer to Chelsea’s most decadent inhabitants, and her mother was an alcoholic ex-model; so it was up to Gavanndra to keep her little sister Candy safe. But when Candy dies suddenly on holiday, Gavanndra’s family, already so fragile and damaged, implodes. A story of loss, recovery, trauma and memory, The Consequences of Love is Gavanndra Hodge’s luminous and inspiring account of trying to reconstruct her life and remember her sister.  

Of Hodge’s book, Kilgarriff said: “Joyous, painful and compelling all at once, Gavanndra’s beautiful book consistently takes you by surprise.  Exploring themes of grief and addiction from a perspective that is as life-affirming as it is moving, this is a special and utterly relatable story that we are privileged to be bringing to life onscreen.”

Gavanndra Hodge said: “I am so thrilled and excited that Liz and her team at Firebird are in charge of turning the Consequences of Loveinto a drama. Talking to Liz it was immediately apparent that she understood the emotional intricacies of my memoir. It could not be in better hands.”

In Hannah King’s fiction debut She and I, teenagers Keeley and Jude are closer than blood. Inseparable since childhood, they share everything: clothes, secrets, booze – and blame. So when they wake up after a new year’s party to find Keeley’s boyfriend stabbed to death beside them, they agree to share something else: the story they’ll tell the police. As the murder investigation sends ripples through their community, the history of the girls’ claustrophobic relationship comes under scrutiny – and they start to realise they might not, always, have shared as much as they thought.

On She and I, Kilgarriff said: “Exploring female friendship at its fiercest and most complicated, She and I takes a clever whodunit with killer twists and turns and uses it to explore universal themes of love, class, family and just how far you’d go for your best friend.  With its compelling take on contemporary Northern Irish life, Hannah’s brilliant book looks at the dangerous line between love and obsession with a propulsive and gripping story.”

Hannah King added: “I feel so lucky – not to mention overjoyed – that Firebird has seen the potential of my debut novel She and I. The team’s passion and professionalism about the project was clear from our first meeting, and I’m excited to see how the story will be adapted in such safe hands. I know She and I has found the best home – I can’t wait to see Jude and Keeley on screen!”

Jon Creamer

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