Sky Studios acquires stake in UK-Based drama producer The Lighthouse

Thursday 23 April 2020

Sky Studios announced today it has taken a minority stake in UK production company The Lighthouse, an independent producer of scripted drama programmes founded by Hilary Salmon, Radford Neville and Nick Betts. (THURS).

Launched in autumn 2019, The Lighthouse brings together three of the UK’s most experienced television professionals with an unparalleled combination of skills developed over many years working in the industry. The trio have an excellent reputation and strong relationships with on and off screen A-list talent, including directors, actors, producers and writers. They currently have a number of high quality dramas in development for broadcasters in both the UK and internationally.

Hilary Salmon, former Head of Drama for BBC Studios, has developed and produced multi-award winning global hit dramas, including Luther; Three Girls; MotherFatherSon; Rillington Place and the long-running and highly acclaimed hit, Silent Witness. Prior to this she was Executive Producer on both the BAFTA award-winning series Criminal Justice, and the multi-Emmy winning U.S. reversion of the show for HBO - The Night Of. Hilary has also co-produced other shows with HBO, including Five Days and House of Saddam, which won a Grierson Award.

Radford Neville was previously Managing Director of Drama at BBC Studios, and prior to this worked as Head of Production in Drama, overseeing international hit series including Doctor Who and Good Omens for Amazon/BBC. During many years as a Producer and Executive Producer Radford worked on titles as diverse as ITV’s crime drama DCI Banks, Wuthering Heights starring Tom Hardy, Loving Miss Hatto, written by Victoria Wood and The Borrowers starring Stephen Fry, Christopher Eccleston and Sharon Horgan.

Nick Betts was the first Managing Director of Scripted for the newly formed BBC Studios. There he led a production division with over 500 creative, business and operational staff, overseeing series including War and Peace, This Country, Inside No 9 and Doctor Who. Prior to that Nick was Controller of Business for BBC Drama, Films and Acquisitions managing all financial, commercial and legal aspects of the drama commissioning slate. Nick left BBC Studios in 2018 to work in the independent sector.

Sky Studios’ investment in The Lighthouse will support Sky’s ambition to become the leading force in European content production and will further enhance its growing presence in the scripted drama space.

The deal will strengthen The Lighthouse’s ability to develop high-end productions internationally, accelerate its growth and enable the company to expand its creative team.

The Lighthouse will produce quality, compelling scripted series for UK and international broadcasters and streaming platforms. They already have a number of projects in development including an adaptation of Howard Mark’s cult autobiography, Mr Nice, a co-production with Independent Film Company, written by Neil Forsyth (BBC’s Guilt). Hilary will also be an Executive Producer on a new drama series for AMC, 61st Street, written by Peter Moffat and set in Chicago.

Gary Davey, CEO, Sky Studios said: “Hilary, Radford and Nick are three of the most renowned drama players in the broadcast field today. They share our vision to make thought-provoking, relevant dramas for audiences both in the UK and worldwide. We’re delighted to be working with such a first-class team with an impeccable track record in making brilliant dramas for audiences across the world.”

Cameron Roach, Sky’s Director of Drama, added: “We look forward to working closely with The Lighthouse team as we evolve the Sky Studios slate. They have an exceptional track record and brilliant talent relationships, which will be important in supporting our ambitions going forward. We’re really thrilled about this partnership.”

The Lighthouse founders Hilary Salmon, Radford Neville and Nick Betts, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Sky Studios. Being backed by an ambitious European broadcaster and global distributor whilst retaining the creative freedom to pursue a wide range of exciting projects really is the perfect combination. From day one, they recognised the strengths of The Lighthouse team and shared our ambition to make intelligent, authentic, modern dramas that audiences will love.”

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Lou Plank lou@plankpr.com / 020 8995 3936

About Sky Studios

Sky Studios brings to screen unique stories from the very best talent in Europe.

We develop, produce and fund original drama, comedy and documentary for Sky’s 24m customers and beyond, with 52 scripted shows already in production. Building on the success of critically-acclaimed Sky originals including Emmy-nominated Chernobyl, Bafta-winning Patrick Melrose and international hits Babylon Berlin and Riviera, Sky Studios is the new creative home of Sky originals, such as The Third Day with Jude Law, ZeroZeroZero from the makers of Gomorrah and The New Pope directed by Academy Award-winning director Paolo Sorrentino.

We’re an agile Studio, seeking out the best untold stories from new voices while working in creative partnership with today’s best writers, producers and on-screen talent to bring viewers stories they wouldn’t find anywhere else.

With commissioning talent and production capability across the UK, Germany and Italy, we understand local tastes across Europe better than anyone else and have plans to more than double our investment in original content by 2024, fully supported and backed by Comcast NBC Universal.

We’re also developing a new TV and movie studio, Sky Studios Elstree, which is expected to lead to the creation of over 2,000 new jobs and generate an additional £3 billion of production investment in UK creative sector in the first five years alone.

Sky Studios invests in the cultural economy and global production sector with equity stakes in nine production companies in the UK and the US, including Great British Bake-Off creator Love Productions, and the premiere reality crime producer in the US, Jupiter Entertainment, creator of long-running hit Snapped. Sky Studios has invested in high quality factual specialists Blast Films and True North Productions; entertainment and format expert Znak & Co (US & UK); natural history producer True to Nature; and growth businesses Sugar Films, Chrysalis Vision, and Talos Films (US).

Sky Studios launched in June 2019. The senior leadership team is Chief Executive Officer Gary Davey, Chief Commercial Officer Jane Millichip, Chief Finance Officer Caroline Cooper, Director of Drama UK Cameron Roach, Director of Comedy UK Jon Mountague, Director Original Production Sky Italia Nils Hartmann, and Director Original Productions Sky Deutschland Marcus Ammon.

About The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse will make intelligent, authentic, modern dramas for a wide variety of broadcasters with relevance to audiences both in the UK and worldwide. The team has long established creative relationships, built over many years, with A-list on and off screen talent including directors, actors, producers and writers. They have collaborated with many of these writers on multiple projects over many years, building trust and loyalty on both sides. Several of the resulting shows have won numerous awards, in particular Criminal Justice, House of Saddam and recently Three Girls. They also have a reputation for delivering younger skewing but mainstream shows with diverse casts such as Luther, Our Girl and Youngers. This, along with nurturing the careers of up and coming writers, will continue to be a significant focus at The Lighthouse.

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