Production executives' credits include 'Torchwood,' 'Da Vinci’s Demons'
LONDON — Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner — the former BBC executives responsible for “Doctor Who,” “Torchwood” and “Da Vinci’s Demons” — have launched U.K./U.S. production company Bad Wolf to produce high-end TV and film for the global television market. The company, which has the support of the Welsh government, will be co-sited in South Wales and Los Angeles.
The company is putting together an ambitious production slate. Development deals with U.S. networks and studios are close to being agreed to, with discussions also under way with U.K. and European broadcasters.
Bad Wolf will have its production base at a permanent studio in South Wales, and is forecast to attract in the region of £100 million ($155 million) to the economy of Wales over the next 10 years.
Tranter and Gardner were at the helm of the BBC’s drama division until 2008, and together with Russell T. Davies they relaunched “Doctor Who” and created “Torchwood” a decade ago. Both shows were produced in Wales, and reignited the television industry in the country.
Tranter and Gardner subsequently moved to Los Angeles to head up BBC Worldwide Productions, and over the past six years they have produced more than 850 hours of scripted and unscripted programming for the U.S. and international television markets.
During their time in L.A., Tranter and Gardner were commissioned to produce three seasons of historical drama “Da Vinci’s Demons” for Starz and Fox, which they brought to Swansea, Wales, creating Bay Studios. “Da Vinci’s Demons” has subsequently been sold to more than 125 countries, and generated a production spend of more than £70 million ($109 million) across three seasons.
The series created the equivalent of more than 1,500 full-time jobs in Wales, and led to the creation of the Adjacent Education Project, which aims to develop film and television skills in the area, working with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and University of Wales Trinity St David’s.
During their tenure at BBC Worldwide Productions, Tranter and Gardner’s programming output went from strength to strength, recently culminating in 10 Emmy nominations for “Dancing With the Stars,” “Life Below Zero” and “Getting On,” and receiving multiple scripted and unscripted production commitments across premium and basic cable and broadcast television.
Tranter and Gardner are now planning to build on that success with a second 10-year plan, with the support of the Welsh government, to create a long-term future for film and TV production in the country.
Wales’ minister for economy Edwina Hart said Monday: “Creative industries is one of our fastest-growing priority sectors. We want to establish Wales as an international center of excellence for high-end TV drama production worldwide, and this investment is part of our plan to create a long-term, sustainable TV industry in Wales.
“Jane and Julie already have strong and established relationships with both U.S. and U.K. broadcasters, and their slate of international productions will play an important role in developing and sustaining a strong crew base in Wales, and will ensure global television content is produced from the region for many years to come.
“Bad Wolf has the potential to be a game changer for the creative economy in Wales. The talented Welsh-based production company will support one of the largest sustainable TV drama production hubs in the U.K. outside of London and help increase inward investment, strengthen the supply chain and skills base and create cultural and tourism benefits.”
Tranter said: “TV has changed beyond all recognition in the past decade. Huge international productions made on movie-scale budgets have put British TV at the forefront of this revolution. We are delighted to be working with the Welsh government to grow this industry and continue to benefit the economy of Wales. Edwina Hart fully understands that by putting Wales at the forefront of this industry, it could be a world leader within the decade.”
Gardner said: “Jane and I have filmed all over the globe and know, first hand, that the talent base in South Wales is world class. We are thrilled to be embarking on this new venture surrounded by such shared talent and passion.”
In 2000, Tranter was appointed BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning, overseeing a resurgence of drama at the broadcaster that contributed to the modernization of British drama and production. Programs commissioned during her time included “State of Play,” “Bleak House,” “Spooks” (known in the U.S. as “MI-5″), “The Lost Prince,” “Criminal Justice,” “Little Dorrit,” “House of Saddam,” “Life on Mars” and the revival of “Doctor Who.” Previously Tranter was an executive producer on award-winning dramas such as “Warriors,” “Care” and “Rome.” In 2007 her responsibilities widened to include BBC Films, comedy and program acquisition, where she was responsible for bringing “The Damned United,” “Gavin and Stacey,” “Heroes” and “Mad Men” to the BBC.
In 2009, Tranter moved to Los Angeles and launched BBC Worldwide Productions, a BBC Worldwide production company, to make scripted and unscripted BBC re-formats for the U.S. television market.
In 2012, she launched Adjacent Productions, a sister label that was created to develop and produce original programming. Both companies went on to become significant players in the U.S. television market, producing titles such as “Dancing With the Stars,” “Top Gear U.S.,” “Life Below Zero” and “Ladies of London,” as well as “Getting On,” “Da Vinci’s Demons” and the forthcoming HBO miniseries “Crime.”
In 2009, Tranter was the recipient of the BAFTA Special Award in recognition of her “outstanding creative contribution” to the industry.
Gardner is best known for her work as head of drama at BBC Wales. Alongside Davies, Gardner spearheaded the revival of BAFTA-winning “Doctor Who,” as well as launching “Torchwood” and “The Sarah Jane Adventures.” Gardner also helped bring a string of hit dramas to the BBC, including “Life on Mars,” “Ashes to Ashes,” “Being Human,” “The Girl in the Cafe,” “Stuart: A Life Backwards,” “Dad,” “Mistresses” and “Casanova.”
On leaving BBC Wales, Gardner moved to Los Angeles to head up the scripted division of BBC Worldwide Productions. In this role, Gardner has been an executive producer on a range of U.S.-based titles, including “Torchwood: Miracle Day,” “Us & Them,” “Da Vinci’s Demons,” “Getting On” and “Intruders.”