Tag: North East Screen

BBC Comedy orders new show Smoggie Queens set in Middlesbrough

Posted on by North East Screen

BBC Comedy has commissioned Smoggie Queens, an out and out comedy centred around a gang of friends who are fiercely proud of their North Eastern town of Middlesbrough and their small pocket of the LGBTQ+ community.

Written by Middlesbrough native, Phil Dunning, Smoggie Queens tells the story of volatile Dickie (Dunning) along with drag queen Mam (Mark Benton), self-styled hun Lucinda (Alexandra Mardell), awkward Sal (Patsy Lowe) and newcomer Stewart (Elijah Young) as they navigate love, life and their pride for a town that feels neglected in its own little corner of the UK. It’s an underdog story on two fronts, so expect a few passionate scraps that may send your wig flying!

Phil Dunning, writer and cast says: “I’m absolutely buzzing that the BBC are taking Smoggie Queens to series and I’m so grateful to them for allowing me to write such stupid and weird characters. It’s been a beautiful dream working with Hat Trick, and the incredible cast already feel like my new chosen family. I can’t wait to introduce the sights, sounds and smells of Middlesbrough to the world.”

Chris Jones, Producer at Hat Trick Productions says: “Phil has a brilliantly funny, energetic and well-observed style to his writing. It’s been extremely special to develop this fiercely proud chosen family sitcom with him along with exceptional support from BBC Comedy. We’re so excited to bring these characters to life through our very talented cast and crew.”

Jon Petrie, Director of BBC Comedy says: “Smoggie Queens is a show bursting with jokes and heart. Phil Dunning has concocted a brilliant ensemble piece that we know will refuse to go unnoticed!.”

Jimmy Mulville, Managing Director of Hat Trick Productions, says: “Smoggie Queens is a joy. Phil has created and stars in a show which is introducing us to our new best friends. They‘re the kind of people who look adversity in the eye and laugh! It’s just the tonic we need right now.”

Gayle Woodruffe, Operations Director of North East Screen, says: “Hat Trick Productions have a brilliant record of producing quality, award-winning TV shows with global appeal such as Derry Girls, Trigger Point and Mastermind. We’re thrilled to be supporting their new BBC sitcom, Smoggie Queens, through the North East Production Fund, our Film Office and Skills team, to shine a light on the North East’s LGBTQ+ community, and provide opportunities for our talented local crew, actors and businesses.”

Smoggie Queens (6 x 30) is a Hat Trick production (Derry Girls, Outnumbered, Have I Got News For You and Episodes) for BBC Three and BBC iPlayer, and funding support by North East Screen Industries Partnership delivered by North East Screen with worldwide distribution by Hat Trick International. The series was commissioned by Jon Petrie, Director of BBC Comedy. The producer is Chris Jones (Kate & Koji, Whistle Through The Shamrocks) and the director is Andrew Chaplin (Alma’s Not Normal, The Full Monty). The Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Gregor Sharp.

TX details will be announced in due course.

The cast of Smoggie Queens (Image: Hat Trick Productions/Matt Crockett)

Zahra Zomorrodian named as a recipient of the BBC Comedy Collective bursary scheme

Posted on by North East Screen

North East-based Zahra Zomorrodian has been named as one of the 10 recipients of the supercharged bursary scheme – the BBC Comedy Collective – as announced by BBC Director of Comedy Jon Petrie today [Thursday 23rd May] at the BBC Comedy Festival in Glasgow.

The BBC Comedy Collective is a commitment to nurture the next generation of comedy talent. Previous recipients have gone on to make BAFTA award-winning TV series, win script commissions via new production relationships, land agents and received broadcast credits for work gained via the placements.

Zahra is an award-winning producer who started her career as a stage manager in various theatres in her hometown of Newcastle.

After getting tired of carrying heavy things, she started producing comedy shorts, then three micro budget features including the raucous comedy The Stagg Do – which featured Lost Voice Guy in his first screen role.

In 2019, after a detour in documentary with the RTS award-winning feature We Are The Geordies, she moved into producing comedy sketches for Channel 4’s Sparks. One of which – If Boobs Were Like Balls – won a commendation at the RTS Awards (February 2020), and to date has amassed over 3 million views online.

She currently heads up the comedy slate for Candle & Bell and has projects in development with BBC Comedy and BBC Studios, and she’s producing their first BBC Radio 4 commission Tom & Lauren are Going OOT! (TX August 2024).

On being named as a recipient of the BBC Comedy Collective, Zahra said: “I can’t begin to describe how excited I am to be part of the BBC Comedy Collective. This is a great opportunity for me to learn more about producing scripted comedy for network television and to improve my craft. And of course, as a producer, the better I am at my job the more opportunities I can create to get regional and underrepresented voices onto the nation’s screens. Being selected to be part of the 2024 cohort is a real honour and I can’t wait to get started.”

Lisa Laws, Development Director at North East Screen, said: “I am so pleased that Zahra has been selected for the incredibly competitive BBC Comedy Collective, following on from the success of North East writer Benjamin Bee last year. 

“Zahra brings experience of producing content for a range of platforms and is a true collaborator and team player. Since joining forces with Candle and Bell as Comedy Development Producer last year, together they have already won their first audio commission for BBC Radio 4 and a range of paid script developments with BBC Comedy.

“Supporting our best regional talent through national initiatives like this is crucial, it creates real opportunities to get our stories on screen.

“We can’t wait to see what Zahra will do with the added boost from the BBC Comedy Collective.”

The 10 recipients of this year’s BBC Comedy Collective: Producers: Laura Ferguson (Scotland), Leah Draws (NW England / London) & Zahra Zomorrodian (NE England). Directors: James Button (Wales), Rian Lennon (Northern Ireland) & Sophie Worger (London). Writers: Caitlin Magnell-Kearns (Northern Ireland), Ethan Harvey (East Midlands / London) and writing duo Zak Torbadi & Kate Reid (Wales). Finally, Editor: Donya Majidi-Maguire (London).

Last year’s delegates attended the BBC Comedy Festival in Cardiff, the Belfast Media Festival, a directing session with Christine Gernon, an ‘Editing for Comedy’ session with Gareth Heal, and a private round table with Jesse Armstrong, with more tailored sessions and exclusive events to come.

Speaking at the BBC Comedy Festival, in Glasgow, Jon says: “BBC Comedy is committed to supporting the next wave of comedy talent, both on-screen and behind the camera. Our new Comedy Collective cohort promises a bright future for the genre and we look forward to working with them.”

Each bursary winner will receive up to £10k worth of paid shadowing on a BBC Comedy production, along with an allocated production mentor, plus a £5k development grant to put towards new material at the end of their placement. They will also have a dedicated point of contact within the BBC Comedy Commissioning team to help guide them through their year, as well as access to the Comedy Collective representatives.

The BBC Comedy Collective comprises of estate representatives, Geoff Schuman and Paul Whitehouse (for Felix Dexter), Tessa Le Bars and the Galton Family (for Galton & Simpson), Lucy Ansbro (for Caroline Aherne) plus the producer and director representatives; Ash Atalla and Christine Gernon, and our new editing ambassador Gareth Heal alongside the alumni of previous BBC bursary winners.

The Comedy Collective works in partnership with BBC Northern Ireland, BBC Scotland and BBC Wales, with the support of BBC Writers, BBC History, BBC Academy, BAFTA, Picture Shop, Fifty Fifty Post Production, Pinewood Studios and a range of screen agencies including Screen Scotland, North East Screen and Creative Wales.

Zahra Zomorrodian

Channel 5 Greenlights 6-Part Drama ‘The Feud’, Starring Jill Halfpenny and Rupert Penry-Jones, from Lonesome Pine Productions

Posted on by North East Screen

Channel 5 has announced a brand-new domestic thriller, The Feud (6×60’), starring Jill Halfpenny and Rupert Penry-Jones. Produced by Lonesome Pine Productions, in association with Banijay Rights and North East Screen.

The Feud introduces Emma and John Barnett, played by Jill Halfpenny (The Cuckoo, The Long Shadow, Everything I Know About Love) and Rupert Penry-Jones (Spooks, Our House, The Drowning), who, along with their teenage daughter Beth, played by newcomer Megan Trower, appear to live an idyllic life on Shelbury Drive. They’re close friends with their neighbours, Sonia and Alan, played by Amy Nuttall (Downton Abbey, Chemistry of Death, Mr Bates vs The Post Office) and Ray Fearon (Fleabag, Barbie, Harry Potter), and despite their foibles, are also fond of older couple, Derek and Barbara, played by James Fleet (Unforgotten, Bridgerton, Vicar of Dibley) and Tessa Peake-Jones (Grantchester, Only Fools and Horses, Unforgotten).

The close friendships in this seemingly peaceful street prove to be not quite as harmonious as they seem. When Emma and John decide to add a kitchen extension to their house, things quickly start to spin drastically out of control. As objections to the plans are raised, unexpected skeletons and life-threatening secrets begin to rise to the surface. Laced with menace, The Feud reveals how Emma’s aspirational dream turns sharply into obsession, paranoia, and fear. One decision sets in motion events that have unforeseeable consequences for both her and the people living on her street.

Further cast include Jamie-Lee O’Donnell (Derry Girls, Screw, Unwelcome) as scorned police officer PC Gallagher, Larry Lamb (The Inheritance, Gavin and Stacey, EastEnders) as Emma’s wheeler-dealer father Terry, Alex Macqueen (The Inbetweeners, The Thick of It, Hijack) as oddball neighbour Nick, and Chris Gascoyne (Coronation Street, New Street Law, Moving On) as intimidating builder Lee. Judith Alexander (The Crown, Coronation Street, Walk Like a Panther), Joel Beckett (The Office, EastEnders, Casualty), and newcomers Luke Hammond and Joel Kai Ali round off The Feud’s cast.

The Feud has been ordered for Channel 5 by Paul Testar, Commissioning Editor, Drama, Channel 5.

Written and created by Aschlin Ditta (The Inheritance, The Catherine Tate Show, Doc Martin), the series will be directed by Andy de Emmony (Vigil, Lucky Man, The Nest) with Lesley Douglas producing for Lonesome Pine Productions. Aschlin Ditta and Andy de Emmony will also executive produce the series, with Banijay Rights onboard for international distribution and funding by North East Screen Industries Partnership delivered by North East Screen.

On supporting The Feud via the North East Production Fund, Gayle Woodruffe, Operation Director, North East Screen, said: “Lonesome Pine Productions have already successfully delivered a must-watch drama for Channel 5 with 2023’s The Inheritance, and are a great example of a North East-based production company bringing stories of global appeal to the screen. The Feud is a fascinating story with an exceptionally strong cast which will bring more opportunities for talented local crew and wrap around supply chain businesses to contribute to making content for global audiences without having to leave the region.”

On filming The Feud, Jill Halfpenny comments: “The spiral that we see Emma’s world take in The Feud, from one seemingly innocent situation to life altering revelations, is something I can’t wait to dive into! Getting to work in the Northeast with the teams at Channel 5 and Lonesome Pine, along with the rest of this brilliant cast, is a joy.”

On adding the series to Channel 5’s critically acclaimed drama slate, Paul Testar says: “Neighbourly disputes happen every day. The Feud takes that premise and runs with it to its extreme limit. What starts as an innocuous renovation triggers an extraordinary sequence of events. We’re excited to work with the wonderful team at Lonesome Pine again to bring this great story and stellar cast to the Channel 5 audience.”

Does Emma know the people around her as well as she thinks? Who is hiding behind facades, who is manipulating events, and who is simply exactly who they appear to be? A drama full of paranoia, The Feud has started filming in Newcastle and is set to air on Channel 5 in 2025.

FilmNation TV UK partners with BBC and North East Screen to drive production in the region

Posted on by North East Screen

FilmNation TV UK, a division of award-winning entertainment studio FilmNation Entertainment, has today announced a partnership with BBC and North East Screen to attract and nurture on and off-screen talent from the region, accelerate development, diversify the pipeline of productions from the region, and produce returning, high-end productions that will be filmed locally.

The BBC and North East Screen are supporting FilmNation with the recruitment of a part-time Development Producer to be based in the region. To maximize the partnership opportunity and broaden the skill base for the region, the Development Producer will be responsible for strengthening relationships, seeking out bold and fresh voices from all backgrounds and driving development activity. FilmNation will commence the hiring of this role immediately.

FilmNation TV UK develops, produces and finances premium scripted television content for global audiences. The company, led by Creative Director Kirstie Macdonald, works with a wide variety of UK broadcasters, creative talent and studios. The UK production house’s parent company, FilmNation Entertainment, is the studio behind critically acclaimed entertainment across all mediums including: films (Academy Award winning ARRIVAL, PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN), US television (Emmy winning I Know This Much Is True for HBO, Chris O’Dowd’s upcoming Small Town, Big Story for Sky), theater (Olivier and Tony Award winning Prima Facie and The Band’s Visit), and podcasts (Signal Award winning SNAFU hosted by Ed Helms).

Kirstie Macdonald, Creative Director of FilmNation TV UK says: “Having had to leave the region myself to find work in TV, I’m keenly aware how underrepresented the North East is on screen. We are thrilled to collaborate with local talent who share our vision of amplifying original voices and stories whilst helping to build a sustainable industry in the region.”

Alison Gwynn, Chief Executive, North East Screen says: “This partnership with Film Nation and the BBC is part of North East Screen’s drive to ensure our ambitious talent and outstanding homegrown stories are at the heart of the North East’s future growth, showcasing fresh perspectives of what the region can offer to global audiences. The North East’s market share of production has been a small percentage for too long. Thanks to the recent interventions by the North East Screen Industries Partnership, including the North East Production Fund, we are now finally seeing some big changes with incoming productions set to increase filming days three-fold in 2024. We hope to see more of our talent bringing us commission opportunities.”

The North East’s much loved Vera to end after season 14

Posted on by Jo Macleod

ITV has today announced that much loved North East drama series, Vera, will come to an end after its next season (14).

Despite the sad news today that this will be the final season of the much-loved Vera series, North East Screen is keen to celebrate what the team at Silverprint and ITV has accomplished across its 13 seasons, soon to be 14. From award nominations to ratings successes both in the UK and abroad; Vera has been an integral part of the growth of the screen industries in the North East. The impact the series has had not just on the North East screen sector, but on our region as a whole, is a true testament to everyone working on the show and at ITV to bring Ann Cleeve’s story of DCI Vera Stanhope to life.

Vera will bow out at a time when production has tripled in the region with 12 productions already confirmed to be filming in 2024 and the North East Production Fund setting its sights firmly on attracting a high-end returning drama series. North East Screen’s Film Office is currently supporting the production team at Silverprint with their production needs as they begin to film season 14. We are sure this final season will be another incredible hit with viewers across the globe.

Northern Child’s latest commission starring Jordan North to air Wednesday 20th March

Posted on by North East Screen

Jordan North: The Truth About Vaping, a production from Newcastle based production company Northern Child, will air on BBC Three at 9pm on Wednesday the 20th of March.

As the UK Government moves to ban disposable vapes, Jordan North sets out to uncover the truth about vaping, and decide if it’s time he packed it in. 

Along his journey, Jordan meets young vapers similarly confused about the impact of vaping on their health. He visits his old university in Sunderland to find out how vapes work, joins Newcastle Trading Standards as they conduct raids on shops selling illegal vapes, and heads to Manchester to meet the scientist behind one of the first long term studies into the impact of vapes on our cardiovascular system.

The documentary will be repeated on Monday 25th March, 8:30pm on BBC One.

Jordan North will also be on The One Show on Wednesday to promote the documentary.

This is another fantastic commissioning win from Northern Child who, since opening their base in the region two years ago, have gone from strength to strength. Northern Child is the sister company to Middle Child who have been creating content for all the major British broadcasters as well as global platform for fifteen years.

Middlechild also have recently delivered The Tube:Keep London Moving! to Channel 5 which airs Sunday 24th March at 8pm. Though this was made under the Brighton based Middlechild, the four-part series was fully produced by our very own Katie Elliot – a North East Producer at Northern Child.

Watch the trailer below

BFI and film industry welcome landmark move to support UK film

Posted on by North East Screen

The BFI and more than 100 filmmakers and industry leaders have today overwhelmingly welcomed the introduction of a 53% expenditure credit (equating to a tax relief of approximately 40%) for UK film productions with a budget up to £15m.

The intervention was announced today in the Government’s Spring Budget to support this vital, but severely challenged, part of the UK’s film industry. This follows work from the BFI and industry and Pact’s proposal to model how tax relief could be made more effective and has been welcomed by filmmakers including Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas, Idris Elba, Tilda Swinton, Edgar Wright, Mike Leigh, Andrew Haigh, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Barbara Broccoli, David Heyman, Kenneth Branagh, Daniel Kaluuya, Danny Boyle, Riz Ahmed, Gurinder Chadha, Sam Mendes, Steve McQueen, Elizabeth Karlsen, Andrea Arnold, Asif Kapadia, Emerald Fennell, Gareth Edwards, Joanna Hogg, Nida Manzoor, Paul King and Andrew ‘Rapman’ Onwubolu.

This uplift marks a transformative moment for the sector as producers and filmmakers have increasingly struggled to finance films at this level and get them into production in the UK.

Also announced today is a package of measures further supporting the sector including a 40% relief on gross business rates bills for eligible film studios in England, until 2034; funding for an extension at the UK’s world-leading National Film and Television School; and a 5% increase in tax relief for UK visual effects costs in film and high-end TV, under the Audio-Visual Expenditure Credit (AVEC) with an exemption on the AVEC’s 80% cap on qualifying expenditure.

David Parfitt, producer The Father, My Week With Marilyn, Shakespeare In Love; Chair of North East Screen, said “Independent film is in desperate need of support despite its global reputation and I am delighted that the Government has stepped up at this critical time – a successful industry will pay back in spades.”

Ben Roberts, BFI Chief Executive, said: ‘This is a dramatic moment for UK film, and the most significant policy intervention since the 1990s. The positive impact will be felt across our industry, and through all the new films that audiences will get to enjoy. The films we make are vital to our culture expression and creativity – they reflect a diverse and global Britain, and build careers – and we’re grateful to Government, the DCMS, the industry and our friends at Pact for working together to realise this historic initiative.’

Sir Ridley Scott, director, said: “Expanding tax relief to support UK independent film has never been more needed if this vital part of the industry is to survive and thrive. Over the course of my career I’ve seen how creativity is born and lives within independent filmmaking, and has been intrinsic to the industry’s growth and success; as well as being the source of important stories that matter to society. It also happens to be something we do spectacularly well – expanding tax relief will help ensure we continue the pipeline of great British stories and talent, both in front of and behind the camera.”

David Puttnam, producer, Chariots Of Fire, Local Hero, Midnight Express, The Mission, said: “Fifty years ago, as a young producer trying to forge a career, I was hugely enabled by Government support then available in the form of the Eady Fund. Today’s young producers, already doing better work than I ever aspired to, need a similar boost if they’re to deliver the success the industry needs, and the nation craves for. The need is critical, the moment is now.”

Major studio development in Sunderland backed with new tools given to the region in the budget

Posted on by North East Screen

Today’s announcement of the trailblazing devolution deal agreed between the Government and North East in the Spring budget will equip the region with the tools it needs to make the Crown Works Studios development in Sunderland a reality, further proving that there has never been a better time to join the booming screen industry in the North East.  

With production in the region already up 28% last year, going against the national picture, the North East Screen Film Office has trebled the production scheduled for 2024, largely thanks to the work of North East Screen Industries Partnership, delivered by North East Screen. The development of the Studios provides the North East with the large-scale infrastructure that is the next step to welcoming productions all year-round, creating a sustainable industry for future years and generations. 

In reaction to today’s announcement, Chair of North East Screen, Academy Award winner David Parfitt said “The backing for Sunderland’s Crown Works Studios is significant in ensuring that local industry talent and businesses have a place they can create global film and high-end TV content without having to relocate to other areas of the UK. 

My generation had to leave the North East to pursue careers in the creative screen industries. Record investment in local talent from the North East Screen Industries Partnership and major UK broadcasters has started to produce substantial change, but this major investment in a large-scale studio development will take us to the next stage, supporting the incredible talent already working in the North East and bringing others home.”

With the other developments currently happening across the region, today’s announcement supercharges the range of opportunities the region’s screen agency are already providing for homegrown and relocating talent and companies. North East Screen are currently working with a range of industry experts to ensure the region’s production, facilities and service companies are ready to maximise and retain inward investment.  

North East Screen’s skills team continue to work with incoming productions to create real bridges to industry and support life-long career development for established crew based in the region. Working with a range of skills providers, including the wider NESIP group, the North East Skills group (represented by education partners) and Screen Alliance North, a BFI skills cluster in partnership with Liverpool Film Office, Screen Manchester and Screen Yorkshire to address wider skills shortages and improve access to quality training for diverse talent and communities; the team will continue to work closely with FulwellCain International and Sunderland City Council as the Crown Works Studio plans come to fruition. 

Alison Gwynn, Chief Executive of North East Screen said “With the UK screen industry worth an estimated £12.5 billion in 2023, and regional production already up 28%, to have backing for the Crown Works Studios will supercharge the North East in becoming an international production hotspot, where world class content for global audiences is made all year round.  

“We have world-class locations, we have talented crew, we have indies winning commissions, and we have the support of all our local and combined authority partners to ensure our region is truly filming friendly. 

“Studio development will provide the infrastructure we really need to continue the trajectory, attracting major big-budget features, key suppliers and in the process, creating a broader range of opportunities for the people and businesses of the North East.” 

To find out more about how North East Screen can support you or your business, please contact us at hello@northeastscreen.org  

We are hiring! – Evaluation, Monitoring and Funding Application Coordinator

Posted on by North East Screen

We have an exciting new opportunity for you to join the team at North East Screen as Evaluation, Monitoring and Funding Application Coordinator. This role is key to showing what an amazing impact our organisation has on the region. You will also be the first point of contact for Production Fund enquiries and applications, identifying appropriate next steps.

We’re looking for a team player who is a whiz with spreadsheets and handling data. If that sounds like you then follow this link to read the full job specification and how to apply.

This is a full time, permanent position based in our Sunderland office with some time working in our offices in Hartlepool. The deadline to apply is the 24th of March.

Screen Alliance North launches Connected Communities events as part of the BBC’s Bring the Drama Festival

Posted on by North East Screen

This March, Screen Alliance North will be hosting its first series of Connected Communities events, with the support of BFI National Lottery funding, and partners the BBC. These events aim to increase accessibility to the screen industry and help improve working practices, encouraging a more diverse and inclusive workforce. They form part of the BBC’s wider Bring The Drama festival which is running across the UK throughout March.

These learning and networking events will be hosted at key Northern Studios and facilities, including Space Studios in Manchester, The Northern Studios in Hartlepool, and FACT in Liverpool.

Open to all northern crew and those interested in working in the industry, the free events, which will take place in person, and can be accessed online, will focus on themes such as environmental and social sustainability, wellbeing and good working practices and inclusion and diversity, all aimed at encouraging access to the screen industry across the North of England.

Penny Hall, Skills Cluster Partnership Lead at Screen Alliance North said;
“Connected Communities is a new strand of flagship, annual Screen Alliance North events which aim to connect our underrepresented communities in the North through learning and networking, and to help grow and sustain a well balanced, forward thinking workforce. The free events are for anyone currently working in the screen industry as crew, in production companies as well as those interested in a career in the industry.

We hope the events will encourage local camaraderie and provide opportunities for learning, upskilling and making new contacts. For those new to the industry it will give that all important foot in the door providing a new network for helping to access future work. We are thrilled to be working with  the BBC on these events, and a number of other fantastic partner organisations will be participating in our panel discussions.”

Each event will consist of a panel discussion with the BBC and other industry experts, a workshop designed to inform, educate and inspire and a networking event encouraging collaboration, knowledge sharing and contact making.

Dawn Beresford, Director of Talent and Skills, BBC Commissioning, said:

“I am delighted that Screen Alliance North have created these three events in Liverpool, Hartlepool and Manchester as part of our Bring the Drama Festival. The BBC are committed to investing in and supporting local creative economies across the UK and the Connected Communities events are one of the important partnerships to help build skills and develop talent across the creative landscape.”

Screen Alliance North Connected Communities events:

Film and TV sustainability day in Liverpool
Wednesday 6th March
FACT, Liverpool

Overcoming barriers in film and TV
Thursday 14th March
The Northern Studios, Hartlepool
Overcoming barriers in film and TV Tickets, Thu 14 Mar 2024 at 13:00 | Eventbrite

Mental Health and Wellbeing in Film and TV
Thursday 21st March
Space Studios, Manchester