BBC Worldwide invests in Curtis Brown parent company

BBC Worldwide invests in Curtis Brown parent company

BBC Worldwide is to take a 10% stake in Curtis Brown, which is set to "unlock further production opportunities" for the agency's talent.

The organisation will take shares in a newly-formed parent company for Curtis Brown and its production arm Cuba Pictures, called Original Talent Ltd.

BBC Worldwide and Cuba Pictures have partnered on content development and distribution since 2014 and this new agreement will see the two organisations "strike a closer relationship", with BBC Worldwide’s first look across all television output initially extended for a further five years, until 2021.  

Following the investment, BBC Worldwide will have one director on the board of Cuba Pictures and one director on the board of Original Talent, along with joint Curtis Brown c.e.o's Ben Hall and Jonny Geller, Sarah Spear and Nick Marston.  

It is hoped the deal will mean the number of authors whose work makes it to production will grow, The Bookseller understands. 

Hall said: "This new relationship will unlock further production opportunities from the richness of Curtis Brown’s talent relationships and access to IP. I am proud of all that Cuba Pictures has achieved to date, and excited about what we can deliver for a range of commissioners and channels in the future."

Geller added: "BBC Worldwide has, over many years, proven itself a first-class partner for independent British production companies. Coming on the back of an established working relationship, our closer collaboration will help us accelerate Cuba Pictures’ ambitions."

BBC Worldwide’s chief content officer Helen Jackson added that the “deeper partnership" was one of a small number the organisation was forging with high quality independent producers.

"It is an investment in British creativity, with Cuba Pictures’ quality credentials already evident," Jackson said. "As well as retaining a longterm content partner for BBC Worldwide, this deeper relationship lets us back a British production team playing on the world’s content stage for the next phase of its growth and success." 

The partnership will not stop the the agency from working with other commissioners and Curtis Brown agents will still be focused on getting the "best deals" for their authors, The Bookseller understands. 

Cuba Pictures was set up in 2008 under c.e.o Nick Marston to produce high quality British scripted television series and film and has won a string of awards including for the BAFTA-winning "Boy A" for Channel 4, with The Weinstein Company, and "Coalition", winner of the 2016 RTS Programme Award for Best Single Drama, also for Channel 4, along with "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell" (pictured) for BBC One. 

BBC Worldwide declined to disclose how much money it had invested in return for the 10% stake in Original Talent Ltd.