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COMMISSIONS

Sky original drama series “The Lovers,” starring Johnny Flynn (“Beast”) and Roisin Gallagher (“The Fall”) has commenced production. The six-part series, written by playwright David Ireland (“Cyprus Avenue”) and directed by Justin Martin (“Together”), follows Janet (Gallagher), a foul-mouthed, disaffected Belfast supermarket worker and Seamus (Flynn) a self-centred, political broadcaster with what looks to be a perfect London life and a celebrity girlfriend. It is produced by Drama Republic, in association with Sky Studios and will available on Sky Atlantic and streamer Now in 2023.

The series was commissioned by Gabriel Silver, director of commissioning for drama at Sky Studios, for Zai Bennett, MD of content at Sky U.K. Roanna Benn and Rebecca de Souza are executive producers for Drama Republic, with commissioning editors Liz Lewin and Manpreet Dosanjh as executive producers for Sky Studios. Hannah Pescod also serves as executive producer, with Chris Martin as producer. NBCUniversal Global Distribution handles international sales on behalf of Sky Studios.

Meanwhile, three original series are in the works at Sky Deutschland. “Helgoland 513” is set in 2034, where, after a global apocalypse, the North Sea island of Helgoland has become humanity’s last safe haven. A totalitarian society has been established that only allows 513 people on the island and as resources are scarce, an inhumane “social ranking” system evaluates the lives of the inhabitants according to their usefulness. Written and directed by Robert Schwentke (“The Captain”), the seven-part series is set to begin filming later this year and is produced by UFA Fiction (“Deutschland 83”) in association with Sky Studios.

Series “Frankenstein Untold,” in development, is a reimagining of Mary Shelley’s fantasy classic, and is set in 1816, travelling from the dirty streets of Ingolstadt to the lush beauty of Lake Geneva, and to the vast ice desert of the North Pole. It is created and directed by Philipp Stölzl (“The Royal Game”) and is currently in development with Neue Schönhauser Film (“Back on Track”).

Also in development is series “Huntsville AL” set in the 1950s in the southern town of Huntsville, Alabama, where recruited by the U.S. Army for a secret missile project, hundreds of former Nazi German engineers and their families are radically transforming this segregated, sleepy little town and are on the brink of launching the American space industry. They dream of reaching the moon, but the late arrival of one family could endanger the whole endeavor. The series is created by Achim v. Borries (“Babylon Berlin”), Nadav Schirman (“The Green Prince”), Ron Leshem and Amit Cohen (“Euphoria”). It is currently in development with Zeitsprung, Wildside, a Fremantle company and Beta Film.

The German projects were revealed June 28 by Sky Studios CEO Cécile Frot-Coutaz and executive VP Sky Studios Deutschland and Italia Nils Hartmann at Sky’s Up Next event in Munich. Also speaking at the event was Elke Walthelm, executive VP of content for Sky Deutschland who revealed that the broadcaster is set to showcase over 60 local and international Sky original series to customers across the Germany, Austria and Switzerland this year.

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Elsewhere, Warner Bros. Discovery U.K. has commissioned six-part crime documentary series “Inside The Heist” (working title). Produced by Twenty Six 03, the series will examine some of the most brazen and intricately planned heists of the past 25 years, including Dunbar Security Job, Millennium Dome, Hatton Garden, Antwerp Diamond, Stockholm Helicopter, and Rio Banco Double Bluff. It is ordered by Simon Downing, senior VP marketing, head of factual and docs U.K., commissioned by Victoria Noble, VP factual commissioning, and executive produced by Jon Stephens. In the U.K., the documentary will stream on Discovery+ in November, followed by a launch on Quest and an international release.

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At a Sheffield Doc/Fest panel session, Clare Sillery, head of commissioning, documentaries, history and religion at the BBC, revealed three single films and three series. Among the films, “Family 23,” directed by Niamh Kennedy (“Abused by My Girlfriend”) tells the story of an ordinary family who found themselves in the middle of one of the biggest breakthroughs in research into Alzheimer’s Disease. Imogen Wynell-Mayow’s “Christine McGuinness: The Secret World of Autistic Women and Girls” will uncover the untold story of how autism in women and girls has been ignored and misunderstood by science and society – often seen as something mostly affecting men – raising new questions around the effects of gender bias in diagnoses and support. And Jemma Gander’s “Saved – Inside AA” has unprecedented access to Alcoholics Anonymous, which is marking its 75th anniversary in the U.K. in 2022. The film explores the origins of the organization,  its religious foundations and what still brings so many people through its doors.

Among the series, four-parter “Body on the Beach” will look at the death of a young Swedish woman,  Annie Börjesson, whose body was found on Prestwick beach in South West Scotland in 2005. The series is directed for Rogan Scotland by Liam McCardle. Another four-parter “Paranormal,” directed by Rory Jackson for Twenty Twenty, follows chilling, strange incidents that unfolded in north Wales over several years from the late 1990s to the early 2000s and an investigation into them. And, Minnow Films’ “Detectives: Hunting an Organised Crime Group” is a fourth series, this time focusing on a specialist police unit in Rochdale and their multi-layered battle to bring down one of Greater Manchester’s most notorious organized crime groups.

RESIGNATION

Following a 10-year stint building Indian animation studio Cosmos-Maya, Anish Mehta is moving from his role as CEO. He led the studio’s foray into original Indian animation IP creation with the launch of “Motu Patlu,” India’s most successful animation series. The studio has created over 10,000 half hours of kids’ animation content and key clients include: Nickelodeon, Disney, Cartoon Network, Sony, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, Netflix, Discovery Kids, Facebook and YouTube. Mehta played an instrumental role in getting private equity investors into the Indian animation business, first with KKR backed Emerald Media and later with TPG affiliate NewQuest Capital Partners. He will reveal a new venture soon.