×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

U.K. TV Bizzers Downplay Brexit Fears in Rome

MIA panel strikes hopeful note for local TV post-E.U.

A panel of British TV professionals struck a hopeful note on Thursday at the MIA Market in Rome, as they tried to assess the potential fallout of Britain’s impending exit from the E.U. on the booming U.K. TV biz.

“There will be problems…but I think a far bigger force, actually, is the desire to continue to collaborate, and actually collaborate much more with European producers,” said Martin Haines, COO of Kudos. “The impulses of Brexit…are just not in tune with what audiences want. The creative opportunity and the commercial imperative will just wash it away.”

Haines appeared on a panel, “Focus on U.K. TV,” that included Kate Crowe, head of TV at Scott Free London; David O’Donoghue, co-managing director of Carnival Films; Daisy Goodwin, creator of ITV and PBS Masterpiece series “Victoria”; Alex Marshall, COO of Archery Pictures; and Steve November, creative director of Lionsgate TV U.K. Writer and presenter Ali May moderated the session.

In a wide-ranging conversation that examined the impact of Brexit on U.K. television, as well as the growing role of streamers in shaking up the existing TV ecosystem, bizzers were cautiously optimistic that the underlying conditions that have driven local production in recent years will remain in place, even amid mounting uncertainty over ongoing negotiations to see the U.K. leave the E.U.

“I don’t think that Brexit is going to have a huge impact on the production sector,” said O’Donoghue. “The great thing about creativity is that…it doesn’t recognize borders.”

Governments, however, do, and there was a consensus that the greatest challenge in the short-term will be the end of visa-free movement for U.K. citizens in Europe, and vice versa. “I think we got used to the luxury of moving around Europe quite easily. I think that’s going to be a pain. It’s going to cost money,” said Marshall.

But he added that the formal mechanisms of co-producing would remain intact, because “most of the fundamentals of co-productions…are centered around the Council of Europe, not the European Economic Community.

“The heart of the Council of Europe is that culture is the soul of democracy,” he said. “I’m hoping that we’ll still be welcome to the party.”

The panelists struck a cautious note over the current state of production in the U.K. “I feel less positive than I would have done 12 months ago, but I still feel relatively good about the U.K. drama market,” said Haines. “The ecology of buyers is still pretty strong. BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Sky are all still seeking to define their channels in large part by commissioning drama.”

He added, “But from where we sit, it feels like there’s sort of an overheating of the market over the last year or so. If you look at the drama schedule…it felt like there was wall to wall drama. With a couple of notable exceptions, like ‘Bodyguard’ and ‘Killing Eve,’ it was difficult to get your show to cut through.”

“I think it’s a very challenging time as a producer, despite the talk of a boom,” November said, while noting that commissioning hours and spend are down in the decade since the recession. “It hasn’t really…been completely replaced by new buyers in the market for English-language dramas.”

Competition from streamers has posed the biggest challenge. “The streamers have been fantastic in terms of raising the bar. But the result of that equally is that the costs of the budgets are going up and up and up, which…can make it quite difficult to finance,” said O’Donoghue.

“One of the big challenges that we have in the U.K. market is that the pool of talent is relatively small, or is certainly finite. The demand for talent is being outdriven by supply. The result of that in part is that you have a spiraling of costs.”

Despite those challenges, Crowe noted that the creative sector is one of the biggest burgeoning contributors to the British economy. At a Brexit panel at the London Film Festival she attended earlier in the day, the producer saw signs that government remains determined to see that growth continue. “I felt heartened that there seemed to be a dialogue that our needs were recognized, and hopefully there will be solutions. [The government] obviously want to keep the dialogue going. They don’t want the industry to falter,” she said.

“Most people in Britain don’t want to be seen to be in this…cultural jail, where we’re locked up and we’re not open to creative conversations. We’re still open for business. And we still want to do deals. And we still want to work with amazing talent that comes from Europe,” she continued. “It’s an ever-evolving ecosystem, and…I really hope that we can still be very much part of a European conversation, things that are beneficial for European partners and beneficial for us.”

Goodwin added that Brexit could also be seen as an unexpected creative boon for producers. “Where is the drama about Brexit? Where is the drama that is showing to the nation, and to the world, what’s going on? I don’t see enough. I don’t see anything,” she said. “I think the Europeans really might be quite interested in that. It’s a real divide….Why aren’t we dealing with it as producers?”

CREDIT: Matteo Mignani/MIA

More TV

  • Kenan Thompson

    NBC Orders Comedy Pilots 'Saving Kenan' and 'Like Magic'

    NBC has ordered comedies “Saving Kenan” and “Like Magic” to pilot. “Saving Kenan” is a single-camera comedy starring “Saturday Night Live” veteran Kenan Thompson as a “newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives.” Jackie Clarke will serve as writer and [...]

  • The First -- "The Choice" -

    'The First' Canceled at Hulu After One Season

    Hulu has grounded the space exploration drama “The First” after one season, Variety has confirmed. The series hailed from Beau Willimon and starred Sean Penn and Natascha McElhone in Penn’s first regular television role. “The First” was set in the near future and followed the first human mission to Mars. Hulu gave the show a straight-to-series order in [...]

  • Nicole Maines Supergirl Trans Hollywood Portrait

    TV Roundup: 'Supergirl' Drops First Look at Nicole Maines as TV's First Trans Superhero

    In today’s TV News Roundup, The CW releases a first look at Nicole Maines on “Supergirl” and Variety unveils an exclusive look at Gabriel Iglesias’ new comedy special.  FIRST LOOKS truTV has released the first trailer for season 2 of Emmy-nominated series “At Home with Amy Sedaris.” The variety sketch comedy returns Tuesday, Feb. 19 at [...]

  • The Beatles Eight Days a Week

    Imagine's Documentary Arm Sets First-Look Pact With Apple (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries has set a first-look pact with Apple to develop non-fiction features and series. The deal comes as Imagine is investing heavily in the premium non-fiction arena. The company in June recruited RadicalMedia veteran Justin Wilkes to head Imagine Documentaries as president. The deal suggests that Apple sees docu [...]

  • Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most

    Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most Outrageous Moments

    It is perhaps only fitting that two documentaries about the disastrous Fyre Festival, one of the most high-profile fraudulent failures in history, would arrive during the same week — a fitting cap on a tragicomedy of errors that, as both films outline in excruciating detail, unfolded like a slow-motion plane crash in the spring of [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Unveils Financial Data for DTC Unit, Sets April 11 for Investor Presentation

    Disney has rejiggered its business segments for earnings reporting to make room for the new unit housing its global streaming operations. Disney on Friday released restated earnings for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016 to give investors and financial analysts better visibility into its spending on the launch of the Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and other [...]

  • annapurna logo

    Annapurna TV Taps Amazon's Patrick Chu as Senior VP, Promotes Ali Krug

    Annapurna TV has brought on Patrick Chu as the division’s new senior VP. Prior to that, he had served as an executive for Amazon in drama, production, and development, where he oversaw small-screen adaptations of “Hanna” and “The Hunt.” He will develop and produce new TV projects, focusing on drama, at his new role at [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content