In his new position, Varley will lead the expansion of Studio71 UK’s development slate, across comedy entertainment, factual and scripted comedy, reporting to Jody Smith, Studio71 UK VP creative director.
Varley joins the team with over a decade of experience. Previously, he has held development executive roles at Fulwell73 and Wonder TV Productions, and head of development at Endemol-owned Zeppotron and Tiger Aspect.
His credits include BAFTA-winning “Fonejacker” (E4/C4) and “Facejacker” (C4) as well as developing BAFTA-winning “Murder in Successville” (BBC Three), “Drunk History UK” (Comedy Central), viral hit “Little Prankers” (BBC Three), and he is the creator of ITV’s “Dinner Date” format. Throughout his career, he has created, developed and produced television programs for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Comedy Central, and has multiple other production credits under his belt including “Room 101” (BBC), “Britain Today Tonight” (C4) and “Alan Carr: Chatty Man” (C4).
Varley’s addition will boost Studio71 UK’s development slate following several new scripted and unscripted commissions for multiple broadcasters and platforms, including recently announced reality wedding show “Countdown to I Do” is in production for TLC, following a 2019 wedding series also for the channel; an 18-part series, “Forged With Steele,” for HISTORY UK with blacksmith Alec Steele; and the scripted comedy series “Fully Blown” with breakout viral talent Donna Preston and Verona Rose for BBC Three. Studio71 UK has also created formats for social including several BBC factual series such as IGTV doc “Fashion Conscious,” and three seasons for BBC’s “Tiny Happy People” and has produced original series for digital platforms such as “Snapchat.”
Jody Smith, Studio71 UK VP creative director, said: “Joe’s passion for new talent and ability to develop smart, funny ideas makes him the perfect fit for Studio71. Through our talent agency Moxie, we work with some of the U.K.’s best entertainers for young, diverse audiences, creating fun factual and comedy entertainment. In Joe we have found someone who knows how to build exciting TV projects around this type of talent, and make use of the detailed knowledge we have of their audience’s behavior.”
Varley added: “While it may be a while before we can all brainstorm in the same room again, now is an incredibly exciting time to join such a fresh thinking company. As TV is increasingly being challenged by online and new platforms, Studio71 is brilliantly positioned to bridge that gap, and with my passion for working with new talent and creating fun formats, I hope to bring more inventiveness and escapism to screen.”
Studio71 was established in the U.K. in 2017 as a multi-channel network and now works with hundreds of digital creators across multiple platforms. It began its production unit and podcast network in 2018, and has since created shows for linear and digital, and has a slate of 10 different podcasts covering comedy, health and wellbeing, film, food and sex and relationships. In 2019, it launched its boutique talent agency, Moxie, to help discover and empower talented entertainers from the digital space, which picked up best agency for new talent Edinburgh TV Festival’s New Voice Awards in February.