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BBC Studios takes ownership of Firebird Pictures

BBC Studios has increased its investment in Firebird Pictures, the scripted independent production company set up by Elizabeth Kilgarriff and Craig Holleworth. The deal sees the BBC’s main commercial arm taking full ownership of the indie, adding the company to its portfolio of majority-owned indie labels.

Established in 2019 by former BBC executives Kilgarriff and Holleworth, Firebird works with and champions top level and emerging talent to create high-end character-led series for British and international audiences. BBC Studios has been a minority investor in the business since it was launched. The indie has recently had two major series green-lit: Wilderness, a six-part series for Amazon Prime Video, written by Marnie Dickens and based on BE Jones’ novel, starring Jenna Coleman and Oliver Jackson-Cohen and currently shooting in Canada and the US; and an adaptation of Nikki May’s best-selling debut novel, Wahala, written by Theresa Ikoko for BBC One, due to shoot in the UK next year. Firebird has multiple projects in development with many of the major UK and US platforms, with more greenlights due to be announced later this year.

On announcing the deal, Mark Linsey, Managing Director Scripted, BBC Studios said: “Since it launched three years ago, Firebird has been firing on all cylinders, attracting top and emerging talent and building an exciting slate with international appeal. With two major series now green lit and a number of shows in development, we’re excited to bring Liz and Craig into the BBC Studios family and support them in this next phase of their journey. ”

Elizabeth Kilgarriff and Craig Holleworth of Firebird Pictures added: “From the very beginning of Firebird’s journey with just a blank piece of paper and an empty office with one chair, BBC Studios have supported and backed us every step of the way, fully trusting in our vision and ambition and helping build the company to where we are today. We are delighted to now be cementing our relationship and are excited for Firebird’s future as we grow the company together.

The announcement sees the number of world-class indie labels majority owned by BBC Studios grow to six. Others include Lookout Point (Gentleman Jack, Happy Valley 3), Baby Cow Productions (Chivalry, The Witchfinder), House Productions (Sherwood, Life After Life), Clerkenwell Films (Somewhere Boy, The End of the F**king World) and Sid Gentle Films (Killing Eve, Ragdoll). In August, the BBC’s commercial arm also announced that it was taking 25% stake in Mothership Productions, the new factual indie set up by former Channel 4 Deputy Director of Programmes Kelly Webb-Lamb. Other BBC Studios minority-owned indie investments include Moonage, Various Artists Limited, Expectation Entertainment, Curve Media, and Boffola Pictures (a Lookout Point investment). In addition, BBC Studios represents hundreds of other independent production companies through first-look and distribution deals and returned more than £180m to the UK independent production sector in 2021/2022 in development funding, rights investment and royalties. BCS Bureau

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