“Chernobyl” producer Sister — the content studio set up by Jane Featherstone, Stacey Snider and Elisabeth Murdoch — has hired former “Black Mirror” producer Lucy Dyke to lead a new production hub out of Manchester, in northern England.
The outfit is called Northern Sister, and will focus on developing and producing high-end scripted projects in the region, while fostering creators from diverse backgrounds both on and off screen. The Manchester location will allow Sister to tap into creative talent in other cities, such as Leeds, Newcastle, Liverpool and Bradford.
The company’s expansion up north comes at a time when U.K. broadcasters such as the BBC and Channel 4 are growing their own operations outside of London.
Calling the timing of the BBC’s expansion plans, revealed just last week, “fortuitous,” Dyke tells Variety, “It’s really important that we nurture the next generation of writers and script editors. When I started out, the only way you could be a script editor was to go to London. There used to be the expectation that talent would come to London, whereas now, we can come and find you.”
Dyke observes that the industry “is feeling that need” to diversify and foster a new generation of creatives.
As for the types of stories she will look for out of Northern Sister, the executive describes her ideal projects as “close to the mainstream — but bold mainstream and unafraid mainstream,” and which tap into a “need to connect with wide audiences.”
“Historically, when people talk about regional drama, it feels smaller or less significant, but this is an opportunity to say it’s about new and exciting stories and finding things you wouldn’t expect.”
Dyke, who has been based in Manchester for some time, will develop her own projects in the region, but will also continue to work with teams in London and Los Angeles. She is currently working with Featherstone and Sister executive producer Chris Fry on a number of new scripted projects.
As a freelance producer and executive, Dyke first began working with Sister in 2016. She has so far overseen two seasons of the hit BBC/AMC co-production “The Split” for the shingle. Created by Emmy Award-winning writer Abi Morgan (“Suffragette,” “The Hour”), season 2 of the legal family drama, starring Nicola Walker and Stephen Mangan, became the third most watched drama series on BBC iPlayer in 2020.
Prior to joining Sister, Dyke produced “Black Mirror” for Netflix and “Ripper Street” for Amazon.
“I’m so thrilled Sister is able to support and encourage Lucy’s ambitions in the North,” said Featherstone, co-founder and chief creative officer for the company. “We share her passion and drive to continue to collaborate with established partners as well as seek out, connect with and develop emerging voices from across the U.K. It’s a brilliant opportunity; one which we’re all incredibly excited about and inspired by. I for one can’t wait to see what the team starts to generate with such a wealth of phenomenal talent.”