Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner, the former BBC executives responsible for “Doctor Who,” “Torchwood” and “Da Vinci’s Demons,” have unleashed their new shingle, Bad Wolf, with a focus on both sides of the Pond.
Perhaps that’s only fitting, since Tranter and Gardner were at the helm of the BBC drama department in 2008, when they moved to Los Angeles to head BBC Worldwide Prods., where they produced “Da Vinci’s Demons” for Starz, ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” National Geographic’s “Life Below Zero” and HBO’s “Getting On,” among many other shows.
Tranter and Gardner launched Bad Wolf in July, with offices in Los Angeles and Wales. Tranter says the L.A. office is key to Bad Wolf’s goals. “What we are doing is ensuring we aren’t just another U.K. indie looking for some co-production money — that essentially what we are is a bridge between U.K. broadcaster and U.S. broadcaster,” Tranter says.
Where the U.S. broadcaster is a co-producer, “they will be treated as if they were a primary partner,” Tranter says. “We understand their audience and their needs, and the context of both the business and the viewing experience that broadcaster has.”
Notes Gardner: “What I hope we can do with Bad Wolf is try to take the best from both cultures and industries and see what happens when you put them together.”
Bad Wolf has a non-exclusive first-look deal with HBO, along with a broader relationship that helps the U.S. premium channel form ties with the U.K. production community. Tranter first worked with HBO programming president Michael Lombardo in the early 1990s on “Band of Brothers” and “Rome,” and they have collaborated over the past several years on three seasons of “Getting On,” and “Crime,” a Steven Zaillian miniseries with John Turturro attached to star (formerly titled “Criminal Justice”).
“We are HBO’s people in the U.K.,” Tranter says, adding that the company is entrusted to bring U.K. talent to the attention of the channel, whether working on a project with Bad Wolf or not.
One of the shingle’s first big projects is a series for the BBC based on Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy, in partnership with New Line Cinema. The series is likely to run over five seasons, with eight episodes in each. Executive producers will be Pullman, Tranter and Gardner for Bad Wolf; Toby Emmerich and Carolyn Blackwood for New Line; and Deborah Forte for Scholastic Media.
Tranter says Bad Wolf is looking to develop shows that create their own worlds, and calls “His Dark Materials” a good example of this. It’s “both broad in terms of demographic and global appeal, and yet is specific in terms of character, emotion, theme and world,” she explains.
Additionally, the company is developing an adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s trilogy “The Warlord Chronicles,” a revisionist take on the King Arthur legend.
Its U.S relationships are one building block on which Bad Wolf is constructed, the other being its connection to Wales, where BBC series like “Doctor Who” and “Da Vinci’s Demons” were produced. All of the company’s projects will be based at the country’s studio facilities, and will be bolstered by the U.K.’s 25% tax credit.
Bad Wolf is funded primarily by a loan from the Welsh government, which is repayable, and on commercial terms. “What taking that loan has given us is freedom,” Tranter says. “We felt that it was really important for us not to be attached to any distributor or boxed into a corner with any broadcaster, so that we would be free to set up each project we do in a discrete, boutique way.”
The freedom to choose its partners allows Bad Wolf to put a singular focus on each collaboration. “Most of the great pieces of television are literally loved onto the screen in a kind of big onwards-driven march kind of way,” Tranter says.
Gardner agrees:“What I love about this is that we take responsibility for everything now. It’s all down to us. There’s no hiding, there are no excuses; you are going to stand or fall by your choices.”