Sky Studios launches scripted content Innovation Hub in Leeds

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Sky Studios, the commissioning and production arm of Sky, today announces the launch of a new Innovation Hub, focussed on the development of talent, scripted partnerships and new content experiences, based out of Leeds.

The new initiative will be led by Executive Producer Vicky Wharton who has worked as development executive, script editor and drama producer on a raft of award-winning shows from EastEnders to Murphy’s Law and most recently Harlots for US streaming service Hulu.

The Innovation Hub will build on Sky’s existing track-record of finding and encouraging fresh, diverse talent to create new, original drama, comedy and scripted ideas for Sky and its customers. The Hub will also explore the interplay between innovative technology and storytelling to bring viewers new entertainment experiences.

Sky is currently in production with five Sky original shows across the North and North West including Tin Star Series 3, set in Liverpool, and COBRA, Little Birds and Intergalactic all filmed on location and in studio space in Manchester. Brassic, Sky’s biggest original comedy series launch for seven years, is currently in production for series 2 in Lancashire and stars Michelle Keegan. 

By basing the Innovation Hub in Leeds, Sky will be able to access a wealth of creative talent and storytelling from the production community across the North of England.

Sky already invests in the cultural economy of the North and directly employs over 1,300 people in Leeds – half of which are based at Sky@Leeds Dock, Sky’s digital and technology hub, building a range of digital products for Sky customers including the Sky News and MySky apps. Sky Studios also holds a majority shareholding in Leeds-based factual production company True North, whose output includes; A New Life in the Sun (Channel 4), A1 Britain’s Longest Road (BBC1), and Teen Mom (MTV).

The new Innovation Hub will encourage creative partnerships and deepen relationships with new talent, building on the success of the Sky Studios Script Editor Forum and Sky Drama Diversity Table Reads, which have now both been running for three years.

Previous participants in Sky Drama Diversity Table Reads have gone on to work on ground-breaking Sky original productions, such as Bulletproof 2, and have been commissioned to write new short films for Sky Arts. Over the past three years, 34 new projects from creative talent have been showcased as table reads read in front of audiences right across the UK.

In her new role as Executive Producer, Sky Studios Innovation Hub, Vicky will build on this success by ensuring Sky continues to evolve its relationship with the creative community for the long term.

Cameron Roach, Director of Drama, Sky Studios said: “We want to ensure that we invest in talent for the long term and with the increased competition for projects, we’re aware that there are fewer opportunities for new talent to develop their voices and breakthrough.

“As part of Sky’s wider commitment to innovation, our Innovation Hub will create an environment in which anyone, no matter what their background, is encouraged to find their voice, whilst also looking at innovative ways in which those voices can be developed. Vicky’s experience and ambition for nurturing talent, is an exact fit in leading this important work, and will encourage talent to find a foothold in the industry.”

Vicky Wharton, Executive Producer, Sky Studios Innovation Hub, said:New writing has a special kind of energy: it can be a safe and dangerous place all at once, a wake-up call, a kick in the nuts, a call to arms, a mirror, a home from home, and it can inspire hope. Our aim at Sky Studios Innovation Hub is to support creative risk from ambitious, diverse talent through mentoring, and forging unconventional ways to allow the very best talent to rise to the top.”

Notes to Editors

Media Contact

Harrison Kelly, Head of Corporate Comms, Sky / 07817476365

About Vicky Wharton

Vicky cut her drama teeth script editing benchmark BBC series Eastenders and Casualty. Part of the original development team that launched Holby, she then became Series Editor and Storyliner on Casualty and Silent Witness.

After a move into the independent sector, Vicky worked on a raft of award-winning shows at Tiger Aspect, including Playing the Field, Fat Friends and Murphy's Law.

Returning to the BBC as Producer, Vicky oversaw a Bafta-winning series of Casualty and, developed and produced the Irish drama Redwater for BBC Studios/Element Pictures.

Before joining the Sky Drama Team, Vicky was Story Producer on Season 3 of Harlots for Monumental Pictures and Hulu.

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. 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.

Sky Studios invests in the cultural economy and global production sector with equity stakes in 10 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, Avanti Media, 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 Production Sky Deutschland Marcus Ammon.