ITV acquires Big Talk
ITV plc today announced that it has acquired 100% of Big Talk, the producer of multi award winning comedy series Rev for the BBC, Channel 4’s Friday Night Dinner and ITV’s recent sitcom The Job Lot, as well as films including Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End.
ITV will make an initial payment and further capped payments contingent on Big Talk’s future performance. The initial payment is expected to be in the region of £12.5m, depending on Big Talk’s 2012/13 financial performance, while the additional payments will be made on the delivery of significant profit growth over the next five years.
The acquisition represents another important step forward in ITV’s strategy of building a strong international content business and is a significant addition to the Group’s growing portfolio of production companies on both sides of the Atlantic. It follows ITV’s acquisition over the last year of So Television and The Garden in the UK as well as leading US producers of reality, entertainment and drama including Gurney Productions, High Noon Entertainment and, most recently, Thinkfactory Media.
Big Talk is one of the UK’s fastest growing scripted television and film production companies responsible for creating some of the most successful comedy series, cutting edge drama, scripted youth programming and iconic feature films of recent years. Big Talk Productions was founded in 1995 by Nira Park who produced Channel 4 comedies Spaced and Black Books. Kenton Allen joined as CEO from BBC Comedy in 2008, after BBC Worldwide took a 25% stake in the company, and he and Matthew Justice, Big Talk’s Managing Director, restructured the business and have been the driving force behind its rapid growth.
Big Talk Productions has produced a host of award winning comedies including Friday Night Dinner for Channel 4 alongside the BAFTA award winning Rev and Him & Her for the BBC. It has also had success with critically acclaimed E4 youth drama Youngers, and the Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm mini-series A Young Doctor’s Notebook, the launch episode of which landed Sky Arts its highest viewings figures in the channel’s history.
Alongside these series, all set to make a return to the screen over the next six months, Big Talk Productions boasts a diverse slate of new commissions for 2013 / 14 including Ambassadors starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb for BBC Two; Chickens written by and starring Simon Bird, Joe Thomas and Johnny Sweet for Sky 1; major BBC One drama, Our Zoo; Sky Atlantic comedy drama Mr Sloane starring Nick Frost; Comedy Central’s Mummy’s Boys; the Caitlin Moran Channel 4 sitcom pilot Raised By Wolves and Give Out Girls for Sky Living.
Big Talk Productions currently has a number of other projects in development for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky and is in development with a number of US networks on versions of its hit UK series as well as a number of original comedy and drama ideas. Under the new agreement, ITV Studios Global Entertainment will distribute all Big Talk’s new television content and help the company grow its international presence, particularly in the Northern American market, with BBC Worldwide retaining the global distribution rights to Big Talk’s back catalogue and future UK series based on those shows.
The acquisition also includes film producer Big Talk Pictures, the sister company of Big Talk Productions, which has made a number of iconic titles including Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim Versus The World, Paul, Attack The Block, Sightseers and, most recently The World’s End. Titles shortly to be released include In Fear and Cuban Fury for StudioCanal / FilmFour, with a number of other projects currently in development.
Adam Crozier, Chief Executive of ITV plc, said: “Building a strong international content business lies at the very heart of our Transformation Plan and the acquisition of Big Talk represents another important milestone as we continue to grow our production base and invest in creative talent.
“Big Talk has an incredibly talented team, led by Kenton, Matthew and Nira, and has developed strong relationships with directors, producers, writers and performers including Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright. I’m delighted to welcome them to ITV.”
Kevin Lygo, Managing Director of ITV Studios, said: “Great comedy is an important part of the genre mix for broadcasters around the world and it’s fantastic that Big Talk is joining us.
“They have a brilliant track record in creating channel defining, returning scripted comedy and drama across many different channels, and they are also developing some fantastic new shows that have the potential to travel internationally.“
Kenton Allen said: “After an amazing five years of very rapid growth we’re delighted to have found a dynamic new partner to help us realise the untapped potential that exists at Big Talk. Adam Crozier, Denise O’Donoghue and Kevin Lygo really impressed us with their vision for ITV Studios and we are incredibly excited about their passion for what Big Talk does best. This marks our next phase of delivering quality comedy and ambitious original drama as we push into the international marketplace and really show the world what we can do.”
Matthew Justice added: “Everyone at Big Talk is thrilled about being part of ITV’s five year transformation plan. Working with people as experienced as Denise O’Donoghue and Kevin Lygo is a terrific opportunity for Big Talk and we look forward to watching our family grow and flourish over the coming years.”