Banijay UK are backing leading drama producer Iona Vrolyk in her own label, Double Dutch.
The new label will capitalise on Iona’s reputation for developing and producing popular, original, returning series and her excellent relationships with top writing talent.
Iona joined Tiger Aspect in 2013 and during her time with the company has developed and produced a range of successful, returning series for UK broadcasters. Her credits include Cuffs (BBC One), The Good Karma Hospital (ITV) and Intergalactic (Sky One).
Working closely and having enduring relationships with a range of established and up and coming writers, Iona’s most lasting collaboration is with UK showrunner Julie Gearey.
They first worked together on hit shows Secret Diary of a Call Girl (ITV 2) and Prisoners’ Wives (BBC One) before developing and executive producing Cuffs (BBC One) and most recently Intergalactic (Sky One). Through Double Dutch they are keen to build on their reputation for delivering high-end, entertaining and character-led series.
Lucinda Hicks said; “Start-ups are hard, we all know that, but when you have exceptional talent like Iona at the helm, the decision to just go for it is made easy. She has a rock-solid reputation for delivering popular, returning titles. She understands how to be commercial but won’t compromise on creative ambition. Writers love working with her and so do we.”
Iona Vrolyk added; “I am enormously excited to be launching Double Dutch at such a dynamic time in our industry. Double Dutch will focus on delivering high-end character-led original series. Julie Gearey and I already have exciting developments underway and I can’t wait to build a new slate of projects with the many wonderful writers that I have worked with in the past, as well developing new relationships too.”
Banijay today reveals a revised executive structure for its UK holding, following the recent acquisition of Endemol Shine Group. From September, former ESG Chief Creative Officer, Peter Salmon, will lead Banijay UK as Executive Chairman, with former territory Chief Operating Officer, Lucinda Hicks, by his side, taking up the post of Chief Executive Officer.
Moving forwards, Salmon will oversee the UK’s burgeoning portfolio of 25 unscripted and scripted production labels, with a focus on content and creativity, while Hicks will run the business’ day-to-day operations. In their new roles, the pair will work in unison to devise and implement the country’s integration plans in order to combine the entities by the end of 2020.
Banijay UK represents a powerhouse of productions which includes MasterChef, Young Wallander, Grantchester, Tipping Point, Mr Bean, Ambulance, Big Brother, Good Karma Hospital, Dickinson’s Real Deal, The Island with Bear Grylls, Eat Well for Less, Location, Location, Location, Scott Squad and Hunted. Catering for every genre and every taste, the combined operation brings together a multitude of indies and a host of the country’s leading creative entrepreneurs. In its new capacity, the business will continue to drive collaboration and creativity to bring the best and most innovative IP to local buyers, and Banijay’s clients worldwide.
Richard Johnston, current CEO of Endemol Shine UK, will leave the business as a result of the restructure. Johnston was appointed CEO in January 2015 having overseen the merger of the Endemol and Shine companies in the UK. During his time as CEO of the UK group, he has driven an expansion strategy, overseeing years of consistent growth. Under his leadership, the UK group has seen growth across the board but notably within the scripted business, SVOD revenues and regional production. The business has also achieved industry-leading gender pay and diversity results.
Marco Bassetti, Chief Executive Officer, Banijay Comments: “The UK is now one of our biggest markets, with a plethora of multi-genre labels and an incredible catalogue that has travelled the globe. With this scale we needed robust leadership, which spanned both the creative narrative of the group, as well as the operational one. Already heavily engaged in the country’s business and tapped into much of its network, Peter and Lucinda were in a prime position to take the group through the next stage of its journey. Brimming with IP and some of the best minds in the business, I’ve no doubt Banijay UK, with them at the helm, will continue to be at the epicentre of devising original and innovative brands, which get the world talking. I’ll finish by thanking Richard for his incredible dedication, commendable service and significant hard work in putting the UK group and its labels in such great health.”
Peter Salmon comments: “It’s a great moment to land one of the biggest production jobs in the world. Having worked across our UK slate from a global perspective for nearly five years, I know how exciting the shows and producers are. In Banijay UK we have an unrivalled network of creative talent, a multi-regional footprint, first-class formats and a world-beating catalogue – an incredible advantage moving forward.
In Lucinda Hicks I also have a terrific partner – bright, hard-working and a lot of fun. Together, we are dedicated to building an inclusive and ambitious operation, where our teams have the support, direction and leadership they need but also the autonomy and freedom necessary to deliver the best ideas on the planet. The future here is very bright and given our producers have really shone throughout lockdown – they’ve been clever, innovative and resilient – I’ve no doubt we can go on to do great things together.”
Lucinda Hicks comments: “It’s great to be combining this tremendous talent, entrepreneurialism and IP under one roof. It has been a pleasure working with Richard over the last few years. The power of our brands and the appetite for them globally has made ESUK such an exciting place to be, which is now bolstered further with more creative leaders and amazing IP. I look forward to working with Peter to build a combined creative portfolio renowned for its standout, world-class titles, driving innovation and originality and being at the forefront of positive change in the industry.”
Salmon joined Endemol Shine Group in 2016, and as CCO, oversaw the creative operations across the business worldwide, championing new ideas and accelerating the roll-out of the group’s brands across all platforms globally. Previously, he held senior leadership positions at the BBC, Channel 4, Granada TV and The Television Corporation. He is also celebrated as co-inventor and founder of Sport Relief, now a £200m charity, and Executive Producer of Aardman Animations’ Oscar-winning production The Wrong Trousers.
Hicks, who reports to Salmon, was appointed COO of Endemol Shine UK in March 2015. Prior to this she was joint MD at Dragonfly, having previously fulfilled a number of commercial, strategic and operational roles at Shine Group, Channel 4, FremantleMedia, and the BBC.
Johnston began his television career in 1996 when he joined Bazal Productions,the independent production company established by Sir Peter Bazalgette. He later became part of Endemol where he went on to hold a number of senior positions including Joint Managing Director, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer.
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