In today’s Global Bulletin, BBC Studioworks welcomes back studio audiences; Love Nature boards series “Otter Dynasty”; Endeavor Content acquires international rights for series “The Congregation”; Netflix, Ubisoft and Cineflix Studios hire senior team members; and BBC renews “Noughts + Crosses” for season 2.
After the U.K. government eased lockdown restrictions from Monday, BBC Studioworks is getting audiences back into studios from Tuesday, with safety measures in place.
Productions being recorded over the coming days with live audiences present include “The Goes Wrong Show,” produced by Big Talk/Mischief Screen in association with Lionsgate for the BBC; “The Jonathan Ross Show,” a Hotsauce TV/ITV Studios production for ITV; “Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, an ITV Studios production for ITV; and “The Martin Lewis Money Show,” a Multistory Media production for ITV.
Masked audiences will have to take mandatory temperature checks with thermal cameras before entry. Entry and departure to the studios will be staggered with audience members sitting in their assigned bubbles, and unoccupied seats clearly marked. Hand sanitizing stations have been installed in the outside queuing areas and by the studio doors, and all audience members are required to complete a COVID-19 declaration by the ticketing or production company.
BBC Studioworks has several more audience-based shows lined up for the upcoming months, including new shows “Yesterday,” a Rumpus Media production for Comedy Central; “TV Showdown,” a Livewire Pictures production for ITV: “Question Team,” a Keshet TV production for Dave; “Paul O’Grady’s Saturday Night Line Up,” a Silver Star production for ITV; and “Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back,” a Rumpus Media production for Channel 4.
Wildlife and nature platform Love Nature has announced original series “Otter Dynasty” produced by Singapore-headquartered Beach House Pictures, a Blue Ant Studios company, in association with Animal Planet. The six-part series will examine the urban wildlife story of three otter families in Singapore. The project follows this resilient species, which were once declared locally extinct from Singapore in the 1970s and now have made the ultimate comeback with 120 otters now vying for survival in the city’s Marina Bay.
Love Nature will begin launching Otter Dynasty on its international linear and streaming video platforms in November 2022. Blue Ant International oversees licensing in markets outside of the U.S.
Jocelyn Little and Donovan Chan are executive producers for Beach House Pictures. Jerry Decker is showrunner and Claire Clements is series director. James Manfull is executive producer on behalf of Love Nature. For Discovery, Keith Hoffman is executive producer and Sarah Russell is supervising producer.
Endeavor Content has acquired international rights for new series “The Congregation” from TV4 and C More. The six-episode series will be helmed by director Goran Kapetanović (“Caliphate”) and is based on Jonas Bonnier’s “Knutby: The Day of the Lord,” which details the real life Swedish cult murder in Knutby that shook the nation in 2004.
It stars Alba August and Aliette Opheim. Endeavor Content will represent the series for worldwide sales excluding the Nordic and Baltic regions. The series is developed by TV4, C More and B-Reel and the first episodes are scheduled to shoot this summer in Sweden.
Jenny Stjernströmer Björk has been appointed as Netflix’s director of Nordics original series, reporting into Larry Tanz. She will be based out of Stockholm and will start Sept. 1. The executive succeeds Tesha Crawford, who currently holds this position and is moving to the global franchises team, as director, global franchises.
Stjernströmer Björk joins from SF Studios where, for the last five years, she operated as chief content officer and worked across divisions to build productions such as “The Cake General” (Nexiko), “The Sunny side” (FLX), “The Unthinkable” (Crazy pictures) and the upcoming “Burn all my letters” (SF Studios), “Margrete” (SF Studios) and “The Emigrants” (SF Studios).
Elsewhere, Lisa Opie, former MD of U.K. production at BBC Studios, is joining gaming giant Ubisoft (“Assassins Creed”) as MD of its Ubisoft Reflections and Ubisoft Leamington studios. Opie replaces Richard Blenkinsop who retired earlier this year.
Previously, Opie was MD for BBC’s factual, factual drama and digital production teams and controller of business factual and daytime for BBC Television. Opie also has more than ten years experience in director or MD roles at Twofour Digital, Channel Five Broadcasting and Flextech Television.
Meanwhile, Cineflix Studios is strengthening its scripted production team with the hire of “Saving Hope” and “Rookie Blue” producer Sonia Hosko as VP, current, reporting into Brett Burlock, SVP.
Based in Toronto, Hosko will oversee production on Cineflix Studios content and work closely with co-production partners. With a focus on the Canadian market, she will source and develop scripted series leveraging her relationships with writers, showrunners, and producers.
The U.K.’s Film and TV Charity is introducing a £1 million ($1.4 million) program to support the under-funded community leaders and groups working to tackle racism and discrimination in the industry. And, effective immediately, the charity has earmarked 30% of its future grants budgets for Black, Asian and minority ethnic people to ensure fair access to their funding.
In September 2020, they created a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Community Grants Scheme, funding groups who were already active within their community networks.
“Since then, we have spoken to a wide range of the individuals and organizations who have pioneered much of this Anti-Racist action,” the Charity said. “We understand that for our actions to be meaningful they must be properly funded over the long term, and that we must collaborate with those who are leading change.”
Drama series “Noughts + Crosses,” produced by Mammoth Screen for the BBC, will return for a second series. Based on Malorie Blackman’s bestselling novels, the second season will see Jack Rowan and Masali Baduza will return as Callum and Sephy, now desperately attempting to flee Albion in search of a new life together, while the city they left behind ignites in the wake of the events of series one. Paterson Joseph, Helen Baxendale, Bonnie Mbuli, Jonathan Ajayi, Josh Dylan and Kiké Brimah will all reprise their roles from the first series.
Jasmine Jobson (“Top Boy”) and Robert Hands (“Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell”) are joining the cast.
The four episodes of “Noughts + Crosses” series two will be written by Lydia Adetunji and Jerome Bucchan-Nelson, directed by Koby Adom and produced by Sarah Lewis. Executive producers are Preethi Mavahalli, Damien Timmer and James Gandhi for Mammoth Screen in association with ITV Studios, Ben Irving for BBC One, Malorie Blackman, Lydia Adetunji and Kibwe Tavares. The series will be distributed internationally by ITV Studios.
Filming will begin next month in South Africa, and the series will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.