LONDON — NBCUniversal Intl. Television Production, which is headed by Michael Edelstein, is launching a dedicated unscripted development unit.
The unit, which is to be overseen by senior VP of factual and entertainment David Mortimer, will be tasked with boosting development to create the next generation of high-impact, large-scale, returnable formats for the international market.
The unit will consist of two teams — one focused on shiny-floor entertainment shows, and the other on returnable high-end factual entertainment formats. Recruitment is under way.
The unit will sit alongside NBCU’s existing in-house unscripted production companies, Monkey Kingdom and Chocolate Media in the U.K., Matchbox Pictures in Australia and Lark Productions in Canada, which has a strategic partnership with NBCU Intl. Television Production.
Mortimer said: “By making a significant investment into development, we’re supercharging our unscripted television business.
“We are determined to be the home of the next big international format hit, and see the U.K. as the engine that drives our international television business.
“I believe that our unique approach to self-funded development will broker a more collaborative relationship with the broadcasters when piloting new ideas.
“Most of all, I’m looking forward to making some ground-breaking television.”
NBCU Intl. Television Production has had a successful year in unscripted. Monkey Kingdom’s “Made in Chelsea” (pictured) won a BAFTA for best reality and constructed factual earlier in the year, and Channel 4 commissioned a further three seasons of the hit E4 show. The current season is E4’s most successful unscripted show of the year, averaging over 1.1 million viewers.
Monkey is also making inroads into the U.S., having recently secured a re-commission of “Newlyweds” from Bravo, with a U.K. version of the show airing on Sky Living in 2014, and with “Trust Me, I’m a Game Show Host” airing on TBS. Matchbox Pictures’ “Real Housewives of Melbourne” is in production and will air on Foxtel in early 2014.
Mortimer joined NBCU in May this year with a brief to significantly grow the unscripted business across the division. Prior to that, he was managing director of independent production company Fever Media, and spent 15 years at the BBC in senior commissioning and production roles, including creative head of factual entertainment and deputy controller of both documentaries and investigations and general factual.
Mortimer was responsible for creating international hit show “Dragons’ Den,” developed and produced many successful BBC series — including “Britain’s Best Sitcom,” “Fighting the War” and “Great Britons” — and, during his time as an editorial executive at BBC2, commissioned “I Love…,” “The Weakest Link” and “The Office.”
During Mortimer’s early production career, he co-created two ground-breaking factual entertainment strands for the BBC: Emmy and BAFTA award-winning “Michael Moore’s TV Nation” and “Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends.” Mortimer also won an RTS award for Fever Media’s “Remembrance Week” earlier this year.