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BBC Studios, the commercial arm of U.K. public broadcaster BBC, has taken full ownership of Firebird Pictures, the scripted production company set up by former BBC executives Elizabeth Kilgarriff and Craig Holleworth in 2019.
BBC Studios previously held a 25 percent stake in the company and has now increased its investment to buy the rest for 100 percent control. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Firebird “works with and champions top-level and emerging talent to create high-end character-led series for British and international audiences,” the company said. “It has recently had two major series green-lit: Wilderness, a six-part series for Amazon Prime Video, written by Marnie Dickens and based on B.E. Jones’ novel, starring Jenna Coleman and Oliver Jackson-Cohen and currently shooting in Canada and the U.S.; and an adaptation of Nikki May’s best-selling debut novel, Wahala, written by Theresa Ikoko for BBC One, due to shoot in the U.K. next year.” It added: “Firebird has multiple projects in development with many of the major U.K. and U.S. platforms, with more greenlights due to be announced later this year.”
The transaction adds Firebird to BBC Studios’ portfolio of fully or majority-owned production labels. The others are Lookout Point (Gentleman Jack, Happy Valley 3), Baby Cow Productions (Chivalry, The Witchfinder), co-founded by Steve Coogan, 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 unveiled a deal to take a 25 percent stake in Mothership Productions, a new factual producer set up by former Channel 4 deputy director of programs Kelly Webb-Lamb. Other BBC Studios minority-owned indie investments include Moonage, Various Artists Limited, Expectation Entertainment, Curve Media, as well as Boffola Pictures, which is 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 £180 million ($203 million) to the U.K. independent production sector in 2021/2022 in development funding, rights investment and royalties,” the company said.
Mark Linsey, managing director scripted at BBC Studios, lauded the acquired production firm’s accomplishments. “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,” he said. “With two major series now greenlit 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.”
Said Kilgarriff and Holleworth: “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.”
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