Ron Burkle Backs Sally Woodward Gentle U.K. TV Production Banner

"Downton Abbey"

The former creative director of the "Downton Abbey" shingle owned by NBCUniversal launches Sid Gentle Films with financial support from Burkle‘s Yucaipa.

LONDON – TV producer Sally Woodward Gentle, whose resume boasts Whitechapel, the Helena Bonham Carter-starrer Enid and Downton Abbey, has set up her own U.K. indie production banner, Sid Gentle Films.

Ron Burkle's global investment group The Yucaipa Companies will provide financial backing for the company.

Woodward Gentle's start-up shingle aims to produce high-end scripted drama, returning series, one-off features and mini-series for the U.K. and beyond as well as developing movie projects. She is currently in development on an adaptation for BBC One by screenwriting partnership Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who who co-wrote the James Bond blockbuster Skyfall and are co-writing a TV show based on the 1960s sci-fi icon Barbarella with Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (Only God Forgives) for Gaumont International Television, the L.A.-based production and distribution banner of the French film giant. Canal Plus has boarded the Barbarella project, which expects to begin production next year.

Woodward Gentle, formerly creative director at NBCUniversal's Carnival Films, the producer of Downton, will head up Sid Gentle Films with Henrietta Colvin as head of development and, joining the company early next year, managing director Lee Morris.

The new company is also working with screenwriters Ben Court and Caroline Ip (Whitechapel) on a "big budget, original supernatural thriller," also for the BBC.

Woodward Gentle said: "Running my own, truly independent production company is something I have always wanted to do – working on authored projects with creative integrity that I am truly passionate about with the best people in the industry. We are already in a position to start production on a number of new shows we have in development which is exciting and nerve-wracking in equal measures."

Woodward Gentle's producer credits also include the BAFTA award-winning Any Human Heart (Channel 4).

She was the executive producer on Carnival Films’ forthcoming and highly anticipated David Nicholls’ love story The 7.39 starring David Morrissey, Sheridan Smith and Olivia Coleman.

At Carnival, which is controlled by NBCUniversal, Woodward Gentle oversaw the production company's entire dramatic output. She has also held senior positions at the BBC as creative director for drama production and as acting head of BBC drama series and serials.

Morris is the BAFTA winning producer of high profile dramas including Any Human Heart, The Damned United, The Jury and Enid. He is currently producer of Da Vinci’s Demons.

Colvin was previously head of development of Carnival and prior to that was development chief for drama at TalkbackThames.