ITV orders detective series; WarnerMedia, Blue Ant Media and Rogo Productions strengthen teams; Comedy Central orders Rhod Gilbert show; “Frankenstein” adaptation in the works; and Netflix looks for African writers.
U.K. broadcaster ITV has commissioned four-part crime drama “The Long Call” from ITV Studios label Silverprint Pictures.
The drama is inspired by the best-selling novel from award-winning writer Ann Cleeves, creator of series “Vera” and “Shetland.” “Des” and “Baptiste” screenwriter Kelly Jones will write all four episodes in her first solo series. The narrative is led by flawed protagonist, Detective Inspector Matthew Venn, who has returned to live in a small community in North Devon with his husband, Jonathan. It’s a place Matthew walked away from 20 years ago after being rejected by his family. Now he’s back to take charge of his first major murder.
ITV’s head of drama, Polly Hill, commissioned the series. Silverprint Pictures’ creative director Kate Bartlett (“Flesh and Blood”) is executive producing, Angie Daniell (“Vigil”) will and Lee Haven Jones (“Dr Who”) will direct.
ITV also announced that Sarah Clarke, currently director of legal and business affairs, broadcast, is promoted to chief operations officer, and current ITV director of media Jane Stiller to chief marketing officer of its new media and entertainment division. Both roles will report into Kevin Lygo, managing director of the media and entertainment division.
The management team of Polly Cochran, recently named country manager for WarnerMedia U.K. and Ireland, will include Alison Morris leading a newly formed TV and digital distribution group which also includes home video digital distribution and integrates Turner affiliate and ad sales. Neil Marshall, who will continue to lead theatrical film distribution, and now also is in charge of local film production and Irish operations.
The team also includes Rachel Wakley, who will expand her consumer products and experiences remit to encompass video, digital and games sales; Alex Lewis expanding her film and games marketing role to include digital and data strategy, media and brand partnerships and games; while Allan Stenhouse will continue to lead TV marketing; and Charlie Cubbon will lead on commercial development oversee a newly formed central commercial planning team.
The appointments follow John Stanley’s decision to leave the company next year after 14 years heading Warner Bros.’ home entertainment operation in the U.K., Ireland, Spain and Nordics.
Elsewhere, international content producer, distributor and channel operator, Blue Ant Media, has promoted Sarah Etherden to VP, global communications and Craig Junner to VP, programming, Canadian media.
Meanwhile, newly formed, London-based Rogo Productions has appointed Howard Cohen (“Stacey Dooley Investigates”) and Natalie Hill (“The Apprentice”) as co-creative directors.
Comedy Central U.K. has commissioned Rumpus Media to produce six-part series “Rhod Gilbert’s Growing Pains,” where celebrity guests will take a trip down memory lane. They will compete in challenges featuring fashion, pop culture, retro gadgets, first loves, school reports and more to get their teenage years recognised as the most embarrassing by comedian Rhod Gilbert.
Scott Steindorff and Dylan Russell’s Stone Village Television has partnered with international production company BlackBox Multimedia to adapt Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” as a premium television series, designed as a fresh take on the book including added experiential elements to update the story for modern viewers, written by Scottish screenwriter Bradley McManus (“Bodyguard of Lies”) for an international audience.
Realness Institute has partnered with streamer Netflix, to create an episodic content development lab for writers in South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria with film and TV experience in any genre or language. Six writers will be selected to work on projects that will be developed and commissioned by Netflix and they will be paid a stipend of $2000 per month to participate and will be expected to be available full time for a period of three months, from June to September 2021.
“We strongly believe that Africa has a wealth of untold stories,” said Dorothy Ghettuba who leads Netflix’s African Original Series. “As we grow our slate of originals in Africa, partnerships with organizations like Realness will help us achieve our goal of investing in writers who will bring diverse genres of authentic, local stories that will ensure our audience members see their lives reflected on screen.”
Netflix has recently tasted success with its first two African original series, “Queen Sono” and “Blood & Water.”