Sky has bought a majority stake in indie True North  and has invested in new UK drama production company Chrysalis Vision run by Chris Wright and Mick Pilsworth.

Leeds based True North was previously backed by Channel 4’s Indie Growth Fund but Channel 4 will now exit its minority stake and plough the profit back into the Growth Fund. Founders Andrew Sheldon and Jess Fowle (pictured) are staying on as creative directors and other key members of True North’s senior team – including md Marc Allen and exec producer Fiona O’Sullivan, who leads the company’s Manchester offshoot, will also be staying with the company to help drive international and format ambitions. The indie is behind shows including A New Life in the Sun for Channel 4, the Junior Vets/ Ultimate Vets brand for CBBC, Homes By the Sea and Building the Dream.

Sky has also invested in UK-based television drama production company, Chrysalis Vision, which was founded by media executives Chris Wright CBE, Mick Pilsworth, Roger Parry CBE and Luke Johnson. Led by Mick Pilsworth (CEO), the Chrysalis Vision team includes Sue Gibbs as Creative Director and Clova McCallum as Development Executive, and has a ‘wide-ranging’ slate in development.  

Jane Millichip, Managing Director at Sky Vision, said: “We’re excited to be investing in True North. Jess and Andrew have a fantastic reputation for creating and delivering high quality returnable series. We’re also delighted to be working with Mick and Chris, who have a great track record in building successful, creative businesses, and the whole team at Chrysalis Vision which will bolster our drama ambitions. ”

Andrew Sheldon and Jess Fowle, Creative Directors and Founders of True North said: “We’re delighted to be working with Sky, one of the most exciting and ambitious brands in the global TV industry, to help us achieve our international ambitions. Our previous investment partners Channel 4 were always going to be a hard act to follow. But Jane and her team showed an instinctive understanding and respect, not just for our content but for our culture too, and that proved irresistible.”

Chris Wright CBE, Chairman of Chrysalis Vision, said:  “I am delighted to welcome Sky as a shareholder in the business and we all look forward to working with Sky’s Content team, and with Sky Vision, to develop, produce and distribute long-running prime-time television drama series with worldwide appeal and long-term value. This new arrangement gives our team the resources and contacts to take the business forward.”

David Abraham, Chief Executive at Channel 4 said: “We set up the Indie Growth Fund to help support creative UK companies get to the next level – and in just two years we’ve helped secure a strong future for True North. In this time, and with Channel 4’s support, Andrew and Jess have built one of the biggest factual indies in the country and established an important training ground for new and diverse creative talent in the north. The return on our investment in True North will support our ongoing commitment to the UK wide creative sector.”

As part of the agreements True North and Chrysalis Vision, Sky Vision will become the commercial and distribution partner for content, worldwide, for both True North and Chrysalis Vision. Existing terms with other broadcasters and distributors remain unchanged.

Jon Creamer

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