2 in U.K. vie for Talkback

Pearson, Carlton look to acquire $80 mil indie producer

LONDON — Pearson TV and Carlton Communications are vying to acquire Talkback Prods., one of the U.K.’s leading indie comedy producers.

The price tag for the company, which is 76% owned by “Bean” director and comedian Mel Smith along with his performing partner Griff Rhys-Jones, is thought to be around £50 million ($80 million).

Talkback is understood to have initiated the sale talks. The company produces shows including the comedy sports quiz “They Think It’s All Over,” the comedy pop quiz “Never Mind the Buzzocks,” and Channel 4’s heavily hyped “Da Ali G Show.”

If Pearson wins the bidding, it would be the first major acquisition sealed by new chief exec Richard Eyre since he joined Pearson TV late last year. Eyre is believed to be keen to diversify the outfit’s production interests away from its exclusive dependence on downmarket soaps and gameshows.

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