The co-founder of The Creative District Improvement Company - a $600 million fund aimed at U.K. studios that launched just days before film and TV production shut down – explains why it is moving ahead.
On March 2, just days before the new James Bond film No Time To Die was pushed back until November, kicking the first domino piece on two weeks in which Hollywood and much of the world's film and TV industries effectively shut down as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, a new fund aimed at investing in U.K. studios was formally unveiled.
Overseen by urban regeneration firm The Creative District Improvement TCDC Company and valued at some £500 million then $640 million, now $600 million due to the fall in the value of the pound, the fund was to invest in a network of film and TV studios across the U.K. — some new builds and some existing — and capitalize on the country's dramatic boom in production, which hit a record $4.7 billion in 2019, and its shortage of facilities.
As part of the announcement, TCDC Co. unveiled its $50 million acquisition of London's iconic Twickenham Studios, home to much Hollywood post-production and an Oscar winner in 2019 thanks to its sound work on Bohemian Rhapsody. The money is scheduled to be used to expand the site and add more stages and workspaces.
Then the COVID-19 crisis struck, and one-by-one film and TV productions across the U.K. — from big-budget features, such as The Batman and Jurassic World: Dominium to major TV projects, such as Netflix series The Witcher, and long-running British soaps — were all closed down. Work at Twickenham — like all facilities — was put on hiatus.
When studio doors can open again, nobody can say for sure. But just three weeks after its formal announcement, and amid a constant stream of news reports about mass layoffs and continued industry upheaval, TCDC Co. on March 23 announced another investment. This time, it was a $290 million development, including four studios, to be built on 22,000 square meters of land on a former locomotive factory in Ashford, Kent, just over 30 minutes from London by high-speed rail link and boasting a Eurostar station connecting it with Amsterdam, the home of Netflix's European headquarters.
Announcing such a major investment amid a global pandemic — and in an industry facing its biggest crisis in history — might appear unorthodox, but the team behind TDCD Co. is bullish about its prospects and why the current situation should have little or no impact on the future.
"I think one has to look across the valley, that's a term we're using a lot," says Jeremy Rainbird, who helped launch Sharon Horgan's label Merman and set up the fund with real estate developer Piers Read, producer of hit Brit comedies The Inbetweeners and Peep Show. "Yes, we're going to go deeper...
Former The Great British Baking Show host Sue Perkins is trading baked goods for the Brazilian Amazon. The British TV presenter and comedian is taking the wheel for a Netflix travel documentary show that will take her on a journey through Latin America.
Deadline reports that Sue Perkins will be journeying through the Latin American countries of Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil for a new Netflix travel show under the working title Perfectly Legal. The travel documentary series will be produced by British production company Rumpus Media, which makes travelogues like The Misadventures Of Romesh Ranganathan, in the company’s first commission for Netflix. Filming has already taken place on the series, though it’s not yet clear if that will be delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Perkins is a well-known U.K. comedian and TV personality, often presenting as a duo with Mel Giedrove, but she is probably best known to viewers in the U.S. as the host of The Great British Baking Show. As one of the original hosts alongside Giedroyc, Perkins helped launch the sweet-natured baking show to global acclaim, especially after it landed on Netflix. But Perkins and Giedroyc both departed the series in 2016 and were subsequently replaced by Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding.
But baked confectioneries aren’t the only thing that Perkins knows. On the other side of the pond, Perkins is well known for her BBC travelogues, hosting solo travel adventures such as The Ganges With Sue Perkins and last year’s Japan With Sue Perkins, both made by Welsh producer Folk Films. But with Perkins’ greater global name recognition thanks to Netflix, there could be more anticipating heading into this new travel documentary series.
Perkins’ travel show is the latest travel documentary series coming to Netflix, which has released dozens of travel docuseries, mostly related to food. David Chang’s Ugly Delicious has proven to be a big hit, while Netflix has proven it could produce National Geographic-level nature documentaries with Our Planet. Judging by Perkins’ past BBC travelogues, her new series likely won’t involve food, but audiences may have an expectation for that element with her connection to Great British Baking Show.