North East Screen and Hat Trick Productions announce Sea & Sky pictures as North East Indie partner for BBC Comedy’s first ever Regional Partnership Scheme.

The new scheme was announced earlier this year as part of the BBC City of Comedy package.

Following an in depth selection process, involving industry leaders across business and editorial, Sea & Sky Pictures has been selected as the North East production company to co-develop a slate of ideas for BBC Comedy working alongside Hat Trick as part of the BBC’s Regional Partnership Scheme.

From a selection of 25 North East companies who applied, seven companies were introduced to the team at Hat Trick, with three going into more detailed conversations. Following these discussions Sea & Sky Pictures has been identified by Hat Trick as the company to work alongside them.

Jimmy Mulville, Managing Director of Hat Trick Productions said;
“It’s clear that the North East is teaming with talented producers and writers so it was difficult to select just one company for this particular opportunity, but having done so I can’t tell you how excited we are to be working with Sea & Sky on getting some brilliant projects to screen.”

Adam Bouabda, Managing Director of Sea & Sky Pictures added;
“The co-operation that it’s taken to get this initiative off the ground is phenomenal, I owe a massive thank you to Alison Gwynn, Lisa Laws, Jimmy Mulville and Emma Lawson. Sea & Sky Pictures will benefit massively from this partnership because I’ve never had the opportunity to work inside of a big indie, so I feel like we’re getting a look behind the curtain. We’ve got a great slate of comedy projects that I know Hat Trick are going to love and getting to develop four of them with the experienced team they have, is going to make it an interesting journey.”

Sea & Sky Pictures will receive £15,000 as part of the partnership to co-develop a slate of original comedy projects over a 6-monthy period.

Candle and Bell and Schnoobert Productions, the two other production companies who Hat Trick showed a keen interest in will also benefit from the process and will be awarded a £5,000 development bursary from BBC Comedy. The additional engagement was engineered as a response to having so much promising talent presented for the scheme and BBC Comedy wanting to support and engage with as many potential suppliers in the region as possible. The fund will also include time with the BBC commissioning team, and bespoke business support from North East Screen including PACT membership.

Lisa Laws, Head of Talent and Professional Development at North East Screen said;
“Working in partnership with the commissioning and business teams at BBC and Hat Trick on this scheme has already given a huge boost to the development of scripted comedy in the North East. It was great to see so many exciting regional companies step up for this opportunity to co-develop with a world class indie like Hat Trick. It shows we don’t have a shortage of ambition, entrepreneurial spirit and passion for producing exceptional TV comedy from and in the region.

This is not a win for one it’s a win for all and I am sure we will see the talent in the region working together to make the most of this and the future opportunities it will unlock. It’s a very exciting time for all the companies and talent involved.”

Emma Lawson, Commissioning Editor, BBC Comedy added:
“We’re delighted that Sea & Sky Pictures have been selected to go on this journey with Hat Trick – big up the Teessiders! Adam is such an entrepreneurial, collaborative producer, with an infectious energy, who has demonstrated an unshakeable commitment to comedy over the years. He is working with some of the very best emerging and established talent around, and we feel very lucky to have Sea & Sky Pictures, and all who sail with them, joining us for the first outing of this scheme.

The uptake for the scheme has meant that key industry figures have seen just how many unique, strong contenders to make comedy there are in the North East, which is a massive deal for the community as a whole. We hope to be working with many more of the companies over the coming months and have already allocated development funds to immediately support two more companies with their slates – Maria Caruana Galizia’s Candle & Bell Films, and Jason Cook’s fledgling Schnoobert Productions.”

The North East Regional Partnership Scheme was announced at the first BBC Comedy Festival in Newcastle upon Tyne (the first BBC City of Comedy) in May 2022, and is part of the BBC’s commitment to making its biggest investment in the North East of England for decades as part of a new partnership with the region.

The BBC last year announced it will spend at least £25m over the next five years right across the North East to fund network TV production, talent development and support for the creative sector.


Notes to Editors

Hat Trick Productions is an independent production and distribution company co-founded and led by Jimmy Mulville with offices in London and Belfast. Established with the principle of putting writers first, they continue to nuture both new and established creative talent.

Sea & Sky pictures based in Hartlepool is a small indie formed in 2020 by Adam Bouabda. The company has produced scripted comedy, BFI funded short films, online content for commercial clients and its first feature film. They are developing and pitching several sitcoms and factual entertainment programmes to major broadcasters and streamers and have grown as an organisation thanks to recent funding.

Candle & Bell was formed in 2013 and named one of the Top 50 Emerging Creative Companies, by Creative England. The company produces commercial content and currently has feature films in development with the BFI, Torino Script Lab, Jordan Film Fund and EIFF Talent Lab Connects.

Schnoobert Productions was recently founded by Jason Cook, stand up, actor, screenwriter and executive producer. The company is partnership focused and was formed to give other North East writers, performers, producers, directors and other creatives an outlet. They are developing drama and comedy ideas and creating passionate, authentic characters to tell relatable and compelling stories.

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