In today’s Global Bulletin, the BBC unveils “Dodger,” a new Dickens-inspired drama series with an all-star cast; U.K. comedy royalty recognizes Jenna Al as the head of the next generation of writer-performers with the Screenshot award; Keshet Productions in Israel and Twickenham Film Studios in the U.K. get makeovers with new rebrandings; Canada’s Black Screen Office and Telefilm Canada unite to improve the quality of minority representation in the country’s screen industries; Channel 4 commissions an anti-vaxx documentary; English soccer favorite Peter Crouch and the BBC prep a daily European Championship entertainment program; All3Media International deals “Too Close” abroad; Spanish golfing great Severiano “Seve” Ballesteros Sota gets the documentary treatment; and Warner Bros. International Television Production appoints Bruno Henriquet to lead operations in France.
Christopher Eccleston (“Doctor Who”), David Threlfall (“Shameless”), Billy Jenkins (“The Crown”) and Saira Choudhry (“Hollyoaks”) are set to star in “Dodger,” a new BBC drama series inspired by Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist,” which takes place before the events of the classic novel and proposes a backstory for The Artful Dodger and Fagin’s gang in 1830s Victorian London.
Primetime Emmy-winner Rhys Thomas and Lucy Montgomery (“Tracy Ullman’s Show”) share screenwriting duties, with author Charlie Higson (“The Enemy”) guest writing an episode. Thomas also directs with Hildegard Ryan (“Overshadowed”). NBCUniversal International Studios is producing, and filming is already underway in Manchester and various locations around the north west.
“Dodger” will premiere in 2022 on CBBC and BBC iPlayer.
In an effort to flag the next generation of top comedy writer-performers in the U.K., South of the River Pictures (SOTR) and trans-Atlantic studio Sister have selected Bahraini/British performer Jenna Al as this year’s Screenshot winner. A star-studded jury including Lolly Adefope, Rosie Jones, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Olivia Colman made the selection as part of a closed-door showcase on May 1.
Runners up included writing duo Dawn Sievewright and Brennan Reece, sisters Madelyn and Rose Smedley, Krishna Istha, Sophie Bentinck and Natasha Brown. In total, 13 finalists selected from more than 600 applicants performed for the jury on Saturday in a ceremony produced by Tamasha theatre producer Debo Adebayo alongside the Sister and SOTR development teams.
Israeli production powerhouse Keshet Productions has rebranded its non-scripted U.K. operations as Interstellar, which will now be part of Greenbird, the indie outfit it had acquired in 2018. Interstellar will be led by managing director David Williams, with Jamie Ormerod promoted to creative director and Marisa Guagenti as head of production.
Interstellar is kicking off with a pair of commissions. “Question Team” is an eight-part comedy quiz show hosted by Richard Ayoade for UKTV’s channel Dave, produced by Tom Corrigan. Seven-part beekeeping CBBC series “Show Me The Honey!” fronted by BAFTA-winning presenter Maddie Moate, is based on a series from Australia’s ABC, and re-developed in-house by Interstellar.
Twickenham Film Studios (TFS), as part of the studios’ £15 million ($20.9 million) redevelopment works, is rebranding with a less-is-more aesthetic and new logo playing on a filmic viewfinder. The monochromatic design will be present across all TFS branding, website, digital assets, social channels, merchandise and collateral, as well as on-site facilities. A team helmed by managing partners Piers Read and Jeremy Rainbird and managing director Cara Sheppard headed the initiative, which accompanies major physical transformations at the studios intended to create a more wholistic environment for creators which TFS is labeling A Home for Filmmakers.
Canada’s Black Screen Office (BSO) and Telefilm Canada, assisted by the Bell Fund, have launched Being Seen: A Directive for Authentic and Inclusive Content, a national consultancy focused on improving representation of individuals from underrepresented groups in the country’s screen-based industries. Through engagement with the Black, PoC, LGBTQ2+ and persons with disabilities communities, the consultation will establish guidelines for how those communities want to be represented on screen and eventually publish a set of directives for the industry to refer to.
The consultation will be headed by lead researcher Kelly Lynne Ashton and a team of researchers and interns who will report to an editorial committee. The consultations will take place between May and September of this year.
U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 has commissioned a feature-length documentary exploring the origins and growth of the anti-vaccination movement, and its impact on global efforts to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Rise of the Anti-Vaxx Movement” (working title) is a Caravan and Quicksilver Media production for Channel 4 and Arte. Colette Camden (“Married to a Paedophile”) directs. Flora Bagenal produces, and executive producers are Dinah Lord and Eamonn Matthews.
All3Media International is distributing worldwide.
English striker-turned-soccer pundit Peter Crouch will be joined by Maya Jama and Alex Horne and The Horne Section for “Crouchy’s Year Late Euros: Live,” a daily BBC and iPlayer review of this summer’s upcoming UEFA European Championship hosted just outside London’s famed Wembley Stadium.
Originally announced in 2019 for the then-scheduled 2020 tournament, the program was postponed, like the Euros themselves, until 2021 after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the competition. “Crouchy’s Year Late Euros: Live” will be produced by Fulwell 73 and feature match reviews and predictions, as well as several unique entertainment features and celebrity guests.
All3Media International has closed several deals for “Too Close,” a psychological thriller from London’s Snowed-In Productions which has been a critical and ratings hit for ITV in the U.K. Starring Bafta-winner Emily Watson (“Chernobyl”), the series features the relationship between a forensic psychiatrist and her patient ahead of a trial involving the latter.
Deals were closed with NPO in the Netherlands, YLE in Finland, DR in Denmark, VRT for Flemish-speaking Belgium and Nova TV for Greece and Cyprus, while BBC Studios ANZ picked up the show in Australia and New Zealand. All3 also struck pan-regional deals with HBO Central Europe and BBC Studios Asia.
ZigZag Productions, The R&A and Egoli Media are teaming on “Seve,” a new feature-length documentary chronicling the life and career of legendary golfer Severiano Ballesteros Sota. Starting from his humble beginnings growing up in Cantabria, Spain, “Seve” will track the rise of one of golf’s greatest athletes both on and off the course, featuring interviews with family, friends and fellow golfers such as José María Olazábal, Colin Montgomerie, Gary Player and Bernard Langer. “Seve” will premiere in autumn of this year, coinciding with the Ryder Cup in Whistling Straits and the tenth anniversary of Ballesteros’ death.
Warner Bros. International Television Production (WBITVP) has tapped former Fremantle executive Bruno Henriquet to lead operations in France. Henriquet will be based in Paris and will join the company on June 1. He will report into Ronald Goes, executive VP and head of WBITVP.
Henriquet was most recently deputy managing director in charge of development at Fremantle France. There, he was responsible for format adaptations such as “Family Feud,” “Password” and “Game of Talents,” as well as locally developed programming. Recent original IP creations include “All Your Wishes,” “Battle of the Judges” and “The Artisan,” as well as the successful late-night show “The Farmer Wants a Wife: Rewind.” Prior to joining Fremantle in 2008, Henriquet spent five years at Studio 89, served as editor-in-chief for “Morning Live” on M6 and worked as a journalist for Canal Plus.