Tag Archive: Chris Stewart

  1. Banijay Rights Secures Marie Antoinette’s Return to BBC

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    Banijay Rights, the global distribution arm of media and content powerhouse Banijay, today announces UK public broadcaster the BBC has pre-bought the second series of landmark historical drama Marie Antoinette.

    The CANAL+ Creation Originale, produced by Capa Drama, Banijay Studios France and Beside Productions will once again air on BBC Two and iPlayer following an agreement negotiated by Chris Stewart, SVP Sales, UK & Eire, Banijay Rights. The deal follows CANAL+’s second series order of the Banijay and Newen drama in March, with filming now underway.

    Created by Deborah Davis, the new 8 x 60’ series of Marie Antoinette continues the extraordinary story of the incredibly modern and avant-garde young queen, played by Emilia Schüle (Ku’damm 56/ 63), with Louis Cunningham (Bridgerton) as the king of France, Louis XVI.

    At the height of their power, while Marie Antoinette and Louis face an unprecedented financial crisis, the incessant attacks of Provence and Chartres against the royal couple stir up the hatred of the nobles while disastrous consequences are looming with infamous Affair of the Diamond Necklace incident. From Versailles to the Palais-Royal, the revolt rumbles…

    Marie Antoinette’s first series has been sold to broadcasters in more than 147 territories, including PBS Distribution in the US, BBC First in Australia and BBC Two and iPlayer in the UK, and a raft of broadcasters across Europe and Latin America.

    Chris Stewart, SVP Sales, UK & Eire, Banijay Rights, said: “Extraordinary performances, enigmatic writing and high-quality production values are just some of the reasons Marie Antoinette has proved popular with buyers worldwide. With another series now being filmed, we’re delighted the BBC is on board again to take this fascinating portrayal of France’s most iconic queen to UK viewers.”

    Sue Deeks, Head of Programme Acquisitions, BBC, said: “Following the great success of series one, we are delighted to return to Versailles for the next entertaining chapter in the eventful life of the charismatic and captivating Marie Antoinette.”

    Marie Antoinette is produced by Claude Chelli and Margaux Balsan for Capa Drama, Stéphanie Chartreux for Banijay Studios France. The season two writing team is led by Louise Ironside, joined by Charlotte Wolf, Francesca Forristal and Andrew Bampfield. Ed Bazalgette will direct the first four episodes, while Raf Reyntjens will direct the remaining four.

  2. Banijay Rights Makes Fat Friends Deal With BritBox

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    Banijay Rights today announces BritBox UK, available as part of ITVX Premium, has acquired Fat Friends, the renowned Kay Mellor comedy-drama that first aired on British TV screens 23 years ago.

    Produced by Mellor’s Rollem Productions (The Syndicate, In the Club, A Passionate Woman) in association with Tiger Aspect Productions (a Banijay UK company) and Yorkshire Television, Fat Friends debuted on ITV1 in 2000 and follows the lives of a group of Leeds-based slimming club members and their attempts to lose weight.

    With an ensemble cast featuring Alison Steadman, Gaynor Faye, Ruth Jones, James Corden and Josie Lawrence, the series went on to be nominated for two BAFTA TV Awards: Best Drama Series and Best Actress for Steadman.

    Following a launch on BritBox Australia, BritBox UK has acquired all four seasons of Fat Friends from Banijay Rights, which handles global distribution for the series. The agreement was brokered just a year after Kay Mellor passed away, aged 71.

    Chris Stewart, SVP Sales, UK and Eire Banijay Rights, who negotiated the deal with BritBox UK, said:“With incredible writing from Kay Mellor and a cast featuring established actors and soon-to-be stars, Fat Friends was one of those once-in-a-generation shows that simply galvanised the UK nation. A year on from Kay’s untimely death, this deal with BritBox will ensure a whole new generation of viewers get to enjoy her work.”

     Yvonne Francas-Mellor, Managing Director, and Gaynor Mellor, Creative Director at Rollem Productions, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Banijay Rights for the first time and have found the right home for the distribution of Fat Friends. It’s wonderful that Kay’s work continues to be enjoyed by audiences across the world, shining a spotlight on Leeds and Yorkshire where Rollem has its home and continues to produce content.”

     Kully Kaur-Bains, ITVX Editorial Manager, said: “We are very much looking forward to bringing this beloved series back to audiences in the UK, and continuing our relationship with the great team at Banijay.”

  3. Banijay Rights Courts BBC for Marie Antoinette Deal

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    Banijay Rights today announces UK public broadcaster BBC Two has pre-bought new eight-part historical drama Marie Antionette.


    Produced by Banijay Studios France, CAPA Drama and Les Gens, the acquisition marks the first international deal for this CANAL+ Creation Originale. The agreement was negotiated by Chris Stewart, SVP Sales, UK & Eire, Banijay Rights.


    Created and written by Deborah Davis (The Favourite), Marie Antoinette tells the story of the incredibly modern and avant-garde young queen, played by Emilia Schüle (Ku’damm 56/ 63). Joining Deborah Davis in writing the ambitious drama is Louise Ironside (The Split), Avril E. Russell (All on a Summer’s Day) and Chloë Moss (Run Sister Run). The series is directed by Pete Travis (Bloodlands) and Geoffrey Enthoven (Children of Love).


    Marie Antoinette is produced by Claude Chelli and Margaux Balsan for Capa Drama, Alban Étienne and Stéphanie Chartreux for Banijay Studios France, and Christophe Toulemonde for Les Gens. Filming has commenced in many prestigious historical places including the Châteaux of Versailles, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Lésigny, Champs, Voisins, and in the emblematic studios of Bry-sur-Marne.


    Chris Stewart, SVP Sales, UK & Eire, Banijay Rights, said: Marie Antoinette is an extraordinary fresh new take on one of France’s most iconic – and controversial – figures, filled with stunning scenery, fine performances and epic costumes. Following on from the success of Versailles on BBC Two, we are excited to again bring the extravagance and excitement of French court life to UK viewers.”


    Sue Deeks, Head of Programme Acquisitions, BBC, said: “Marie Antoinette possesses an enduring fascination and Deborah Davis has a very singular vision for her story – we are truly delighted to be bringing this ambitious project to BBC Two and iPlayer.“


    Marie Antoinette was barely 14 years old when she left Austria to marry the Dauphin of France. Growing from a stubborn young princess navigating the rules of the French court under pressure to continue the Bourbon line, to a true fashion icon, she impressed with her natural charisma, and recreated life in Versailles in her image: free, independent and feminist ahead of time. Even with rumours undermining her reputation, the notorious figure would defeat the enemies of the Versailles court with courage and dignity.

  4. STV Player signs with Banijay Rights for biggest-ever content deal

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    STV Player today announces its biggest content deal to date, after partnering with Banijay Rights to bring over 1200 hours of new programming to the free streaming service.


    The content will be dropped on the platform over the next twelve months and will primarily comprise high-end drama and compelling factual series from around the world.


    The first batch is due to go live in early August and will include titles such as Scandi-noir thriller Beck; French murder mystery Malaterra, based on the successful British series Broadchurch; and two acclaimed Australian series, The Time of our Lives and Tangle, which both focus on the trials and tribulations of chaotic Melbourne families.


    The Banijay deal also brings more big names to STV Player, including Olivia Colman and Vanessa Redgrave (who both star in The Thirteenth Tale), Frank Grillo and Nick Jonas (Kingdom) and Rowan Atkinson (The Thin Blue Line).


    In Scotland, STV Player is the on-demand home of Channel 3 network content. Across the UK, it’s one of the country’s fastest-growing AVODs, with an ever-expanding library of free content correlating with a significant surge in consumption.


    In the first half of 2021 (1 January – 30 June), streams have grown 94% and total online viewing is up 66% compared with the same time period last year. After launching on all major platforms at the end of 2020, STV Player increased its addressable audience more than tenfold to 50 million adults.


    In June, the platform celebrated its best-performing day since launching in 2009, achieving over one million streams in a single day for the first time ever.  Streams grew by 163%, with online viewing up 370% during June alone, fuelled by Euro 2020 and weekly soap drops. In the same month, free rewards service STV Player VIP was launched, which offers viewers personalised content recommendations, new prizes every month, and no pre-roll adverts so they can access content without delay.


    Richard Williams, Managing Director, Digital at STV, said: “As STV Player has continued to grow its audience across the country, we’ve gained a clearer idea of what our viewers want from the service. This significant deal with Banijay taps right into that, with hundreds of hours of unmissable drama set to drop on STV Player in the coming months.


    “The VOD world is constantly evolving and, as a relatively new player in this field, it’s important for us to have a niche. We’re delighted to be building our reputation as a free provider of big, star-studded dramas, along with popular overseas titles that viewers in the UK are unlikely to discover anywhere else.”


    Chris Stewart, SVP UK and Eire, Banijay Rights, said: “This landmark deal extends our partnership with STV and provides viewers on-demand access to a fantastic selection of premium drama and factual content, some of which is available in the UK for the first time.”

  5. Political Drama, Stonehouse, Wins BBC Script Commission

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    Banijay Rights, the leading distribution arm of Banijay, today announces that the BBC has commissioned John Preston to write Stonehouse, a three-part drama about the MP of the same name, who famously faked his own death.


    On 20 November 1974, a pile of clothes was found on a beach in Miami. It appeared that John Stonehouse had gone swimming and was assumed drowned or killed by a shark. Despite the absence of a body, obituaries were published.  However, it transpired he was very much alive and en route to Australia to set up a new life with his mistress and secretary, Sheila Buckley.


    The mini-series will be co-produced by the UK indie Clearwood Films and Snowed-In Productions, with Ellie Wood (Decline and Fall, Bleak House) and Ruth Kenley-Letts (Mrs Wilson, C.B Strike) on-board as executive producers. Banijay Rights will handle international distribution.


    Stonehouse is the second collaboration between Wood and Preston. Wood has produced, The Dig for Netflix, a forthcoming feature film adaptation of Preston’s novel of the same name, starring Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James and Johnny Flynn.


    John Preston is also the author of A Very English Scandal, adapted into a multi-award winning three-part drama for the BBC, starring Hugh Grant.


    Later this year, Ellie Wood will produce But When We Dance, a single film for the BBC about living with Parkinson’s and the therapeutic effects of ballet.


    Global distributor Banijay Rights has a first-look development deal with Clearwood Films demonstrating the company’s commitment to working with some of the best and most creative talent to strengthen its scripted offering. Stonehouse is the first drama production to emerge from the partnership.  


    Ellie Wood says,“I’m delighted to be working with John and the BBC on this extraordinary story. John has an exceptional tone and the ability to bring remarkable characters to life and together we hope to create a drama that will resonate with audiences worldwide.”


    John Preston comments,“There has never been a more bizarre true-life story than that of John Stonehouse, who miraculously came back to life a month after his own “death”. I am thrilled to have the chance to dramatise a case which has fascinated me for as long as I can remember.”


    Chris Stewart, Commercial Director at Banijay Rights adds,“Nothing creates scintillating drama quite like a true story and we can’t wait to see this infamous and fascinating tale brought to life by Ellie, John and the BBC.”

  6. Banijay Rights’ Welsh Noir Series BANG Makes Explosive Return in 2020

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    Banijay Rights, the leading distribution arm of Banijay Group, confirmed today that the award-winning Welsh crime series, Bang, will return for a second season, this time with leading actors Alexander Vlahos (Versailles) and David Hayman (Taboo) onboard.

    Produced by Joio, the BAFTA-Cymru and Celtic Media Festival award-winning drama, Bang (6 x 60’), a bi-lingual crime drama created in both English and Welsh, is currently shooting in Port Talbot and will premiere on S4C in February next year.

    The much-awaited second series will follow Detective Sergeant Gina Jenkins (played by Catrin Stewart), as she attempts to solve a series of killings apparently connected to an historic rape allegation. Alexander Vlahos will play Dai, one of the suspects in the original rape investigation while David Hayman takes on the role of Jeff Campbell, a local businessman and hard man who will use violence where necessary to protect his own.

    Bang sees director Philip John (Iron Fist & Downton Abbey) return to the helm with Norwegian Director of Photography, Bjørn Ståle Bratberg, behind the camera. Catrin Lewis Defis (Broadchurch) returns as producer.

    Written by BAFTA award-winning Roger Williams, the first series of Bang was shortlisted for the prestigious Writers’ Guild Award and is notable for its ground-breaking use of two languages and striking location. As well as attracting critical-acclaim, the series also became the first S4C drama to be acquired by the BBC in its original form and sold internationally into territories such as North America and Sweden.

    Creator, Writer and Executive Producer, Roger Williams says, “At the heart of this second series is a compelling story about revenge and the desire to reveal the truth about an historic crime. Bang delivers the story in an individual and unique style by harnessing two languages, strong performances and the stunning industrial landscape of the steel town of Port Talbot.”

    Amanda Rees, S4C Director of Content, said: “S4C is thrilled to see the return of Bang in 2020. The pioneering drama is hailed as one of S4C’s Originals, and the award-winning crime thriller, set in the heart of one of Wales’ industrial capitals, has raised the profile of Welsh drama across the world.”

    Chris Stewart, Commercial Director – Banijay Rights, comments, “The first series of Bang made an incredible impact when it first premiered on S4C in 2017, and subsequently became a multi award-winning title. We could not be happier to represent the second run, which is set to be just as original and compelling as the critically-acclaimed season that went before.”

    This second series of Bang dissects the theme of power; the power certain men wield over women, the individuals who enable this behaviour to go unchecked, and the victims’ search for justice.

    The story begins with the murder of a 30-year old man in unusual circumstances on the waterfront of the steel town of Port Talbot. Little do detectives Gina and Luke realise that the murder victim is just the first victim in a series of murders that will go on to be connected to a historic rape accusation.

    It transpires there’s a serial killer on the loose targeting the men who were named by local woman Marissa Clarke in a rape case 10-years previously. The case against the men fell apart before it went to trial and they were never brought to justice…

    Bang is made possible with support from the Welsh Government.

  7. UKTV Acquires High-End Drama Thriller, The Gulf, From Banijay Rights

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    Banijay Rights, the leading distribution arm of Banijay Group, has sold premium drama title, The Gulf to UKTV for its local audiences. The series will air on the broadcaster’s crime drama channel, Alibi.

    The deal, which will see the 3 x 90’ series launching on Alibi in early Spring 2020, was brokered by Chris Stewart, Commercial Director – Scripted at Banijay Rights, and Daniel Thomas, Acquisitions Manager at UKTV.

    Daniel Thomas, Acquisitions Manager at UKTV comments, “We are really pleased to have acquired this exciting new thriller for Alibi as we continue to include the very best of international crime drama in our schedule. Our viewers are extremely discerning and The Gulf, with its unique take on a crime story set against the incredible backdrop of New Zealand, will have wide appeal.”

    Chris Stewart, Commercial Director – Scripted, Banijay Rights adds, “We are delighted that UKTV will be bringing this absorbing and original antipodean series to a UK audience where I’m sure it will engage a new legion of drama fans looking for their next crime fix. The Gulf, co-produced by Banijay Group’s Screentime New Zealand, has launched in New Zealand and in Germany to much acclaim and is proving to be a very desirable drama property for us with further sales already in the pipeline.”

    Elsewhere in Europe The Gulf will also travel to Poland, after being acquired by Canal+ for its channel, Ale Kino+.

    This follows hot on the heels of the previously announced U.S. pick up of the drama, where AMC Networks’ streaming service Sundance Now will feature the exclusive U.S. premiere of The Gulf beginning Wednesday, 4th December 2019.

    Domestically, the series was a ratings winner for New Zealand broadcaster TV3 and is the top performing mini-series of 2019 to date. The drama pulled in a launch audience 40% above the channel average. Meanwhile, in Germany The Gulf consistently outperformed the slot average by more than 10%.

    Recently launched at MIPCOM, German-New Zealand thriller The Gulf, (6 x 60’) centres around the moral disintegration of Detective Jess Savage, who finds herself caught between upholding the legal justice system and morality, as she investigates crimes on her home patch of Waiheke Island, New Zealand. The Gulf is an international co-production from Banijay Group’s Screentime New Zealand, Lippy Pictures, German fiction specialist Letterbox Filmproduktion, a member company of the Studio Hamburg Production Group, and broadcasters ZDF and TV3.

  8. Banijay Rights Confirms First Look Development Deal With Tigerlily Productions

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    Banijay Rights, the leading distribution arm of Banijay Group, has today confirmed a first look development deal with multi award-winning independent production company, Tigerlily Productions. The new agreement covers scripted programming developed, created and produced by Tigerlily for the UK and international markets.

    Founded by Natasha Dack-Ojumu and Nikki Parrott in 2000, Tigerlily Productions has a reputation for creating distinctive and original work, ranging from feature films to factual TV. Credits include The Ones Below, written and directed by David Farr (The Night Manager, Hanna), Remainder, featuring Tom Sturridge (Sweet Bitter) and Cush Jumbo (The Good Fight), and The Lovers and the Despot, the feature doc about Kim Jong Il’s kidnapping of a South Korean film director.

    Natasha and Nikki comment, “We are extremely pleased to be working alongside the highly experienced scripted team at Banijay Rights. Their combined knowledge and global position in the fiction space will ensure that our new dramas will have the best possible start, as well as the opportunity to be seen by international audiences. With more drama seeking inspiration from real life events, we are excited about bringing our vast factual experience to bear in this area.”

    Chris Stewart, Commercial Director, Scripted at Banijay Rights adds, “As the unprecedented demand for high-end scripted programming in the global market continues, this new relationship will further extend our scripted offering. Tigerlily has such a strong reputation for bringing deeply human stories to life, and we are very much looking forward to working with them on their line-up of exciting new projects.”

    Already in development are scripted series Angela, a pacey and tense hospital crime drama set in Salford; the psychological drama about the modern day phenomenon of ‘ghosting’, I See Through You; and Glasgow-based, female-led crime drama, adapted from Christopher Brookmyer’s novel of the same name, Where The Bodies Are Buried.
    This new agreement hotly follows other recent Banijay Rights’ first-look development deals with leading UK indies Greenacre Films and Clearwood Films.