Rainmaker Content, the international distributor that specialises in drama, factual and special-event programming, has taken a minority equity stake in Madame Blanc Mysteries indie Saffron Cherry Productions.

The indie, founded by Caroline Roberts-Cherry, Martin Riley and Sally Lindsay previously had a first-look deal with Rainmaker.

For both parties, it’s a first: it is Rainmaker’s first investment in an indie and Saffron Cherry’s first equity partnership.

Graham Begg, founder and co-chief executive officer of Rainmaker Content will join Saffron Cherry’s board as part of the deal. Rainmaker director, Debbie Manners, was influential in bringing the two parties together and continues to play an active role at the heart of the relationship between the two companies.

Over the last year, Rainmaker and Saffron Cherry have worked together on a slate of returning drama series, which they will now bring to market. In-development highlights include Blurred by Ian Winterton (6 x 60 mins), about a police officer with a disturbing talent for ‘super-recognising’ faces; The Dales Detective Agency based on Julia Chapman’s best-selling book series of the same name and adapted by Stewart Harcourt (Maigret, Agatha Raisin, Poirot) (3 x 90 mins), which brings together the diverse worlds of Murder-mystery, Romance — and Farming; Fit For a Queen by Richard Easter (6 x 60 mins), based on the life of Queen Elizabeth II’s favourite fashion designer, Norman Hartnell and Hudson Hughes by Tanya Samuel MBE (6 x 60 mins) which chronicles the adventures of the surprisingly talented nephew of Sherlock Holmes’ housekeeper.

The Saffron Cherry scripted slate is headed up by Jane Langford.

Based in Manchester, Saffron Cherry produces television, cinematic film and digital short-form content across the scripted and non-scripted genres, actively promoting projects that are rooted in the North-West but have global appeal. Recent hits include The Madame Blanc Mysteries, starring Sally Lindsay (Mount Pleasant; Cold Call; Scott & Bailey) and Steve Edge (The Madame Blanc Mysteries; Starlings; Phoenix Nights). The six-part mystery drama, commissioned for Channel 5 and Acorn TV, was co-produced by Clapperboard and Saffron Cherry, and created by Lindsay and co-written by Lindsay and Sue Vincent.

In children’s, the company’s content includes the CBBC drama The Wonton Warrior. The company also make the hit show The World According to Grandpa for Channel 5’s Milkshake! The show is also made in Welsh with partners Boom Cymru for S4C and will next year also be made in Irish with partners Telgael for TG4. Factual titles include Noël Coward by Julian Clary for Sky Arts, and  Emmeline Pankhurst: The Making of a Militant for the BBC.

Greg Phillips, founder and co-chief executive officer of Rainmaker Content, said: “In today’s challenging climate, creative companies need a mix of talent, commercial acumen and strong relationships if they are to be sustainable. Over the last year, it’s become clear that Rainmaker and Saffron Cherry not only have complementary skills, visions and voices, but that, working together, we can go further and achieve greater. Our investment in Saffron Cherry recognises that and signals our ambition to continue to deliver fresh and engaging shows.

Caroline Roberts-Cherry, founder and managing director of Saffron Cherry added: “Rainmaker’s commitment will allow Saffron Cherry to get where we want to be faster; it was important to Martin, Sally and I to partner with a company who ‘got us’ and who recognise the power of authentic storytelling. We look forward to this next exciting chapter.”

Following the success of its first-look deal with Saffron Cherry, Rainmaker recently announced a similar strategic alliance with Finnish indie Take Two Studios, which focuses on high-end drama, documentaries and podcasts. Under the deal with the year-old indie, Rainmaker will advise on programming and strategy and be granted a first look on all Take Two output.


Pippa Considine

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