U.K. company produces 'Wallander,' 'Strike Back'

LONDON — Sony Pictures Television has taken a majority stake in U.K. production company Left Bank Pictures, its first move into scripted production in Blighty.

Under the deal, which was anticipated (Variety, July 8), SPT will distribute future Left Bank TV content, both finished programming and formats. SPT will also have a first-look distribution option on features produced by the company.

Left Bank, headed by Andy Harries and Marigo Kehoe, is one of the U.K.’s leading producers of TV dramas and movies.

It produces Kenneth Branagh-starring crime series “Wallander” for WGBH Boston and the BBC, and action series “Strike Back” for Cinemax/HBO in the U.S. and satcaster BSkyB in the U.K. The company is producing a six-part Nelson Mandela biopic, working titled “Madiba.”

Its feature credits include “The Lady,” a biopic about Burma’s activist Aung San Suu Kyi, starring Michelle Yeoh, and Martin Sheen-starrer “The Damned United,” about soccer manager Brian Clough.

Before setting up the company with Kehoe in 2007, Harries produced “The Queen,” starring Helen Mirren.

SPT’s prexy of international production, Andrea Wong, said, “Powered by the outstanding creative talent of Andy, Marigo and their team, Left Bank is justifiably admired in the U.K. and internationally, making it the perfect complement to our diverse U.K. portfolio.”

SPT owns three other U.K. shingles — Gogglebox Entertainment, Victory Television and Silver River.

Harries said, “This marks the start of a new phase of ambitious quality drama from us for the international market place.”

Harries and Kehoe will report to Wong, former CEO and prexy of Lifetime, who joined SPT in September as prexy of international production, based in London.

SPT produces scripted TV locally in Germany, Russia, the Netherlands, the Middle East and across Latin America. It operates wholly owned and joint venture companies in 15 countries covering Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.

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