BBC Films adds Neal to stable

U.K. Drama producer strikes first-look deal

CANNES — Leading Brit drama producer Gub Neal has struck a first-look deal to develop movie projects with BBC Films.

Neal, who launched indie shingle Box TV last year, previously was head of drama at Channel 4, and before that at Granada TV.

At C4 he was responsible for such shows as “Queer as Folk,” and at Granada he exec produced the “Cracker” series and the movie “Heart.”

Box TV is 24.9% owned by Intermedia, which has first look at the company’s TV projects.

BBC Films also has a handful of projects in its new strategy to develop larger-scale movies.

According to BBC Films chief David Thompson, this involves “more emphasis on adventure, big emotion and journeys.”

“Astra the Au Pair From Outer Space,” being written by Carol Noble, is a family comedy about parents who inadvertently hire an alien as a nanny for their kids.

In a similar high-concept vein, “Big Kids” is based on a BBC children’s TV series by Lucy Daniel-Raby. It’s about two parents who get hypnotized and periodically revert to being children, which means their kids have to look after them.

On a more adult note, BBC Films has optioned Gillian Slovo’s novel “Red Dust,” about an American lawyer who becomes involved in the investigations of South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission.

Peter Kosminsky will direct “Catwalk,” written by Belinda Bauer (“Happy Now”), about a girl who discovers the dark side of her dream to become a fashion model.

On a smaller scale, John Brownlow has signed to script a biopic about poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, to be produced by Ruby Films.

Thompson also said the BBC is actively seeking “creative partnerships” with American writers, directors and producers who can bring experience of bigger-budget filmmaking. He is cultivating relationships with U.S. agents who can bring American talent to collaborate with the BBC’s own Brit stable.

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