Penguin Random House Audio is expanding its in-house expertise ahead of the opening of the new Penguin Studios with the appointment of Heavy Entertainment's Chris Thompson as senior producer.
While the audio team was previously based at 80 The Strand, Penguin Studios will consist of three new "state-of-the-art" recording studios and be housed in Penguin Random House’s new office in Embassy Gardens. Serving as a central hub for Penguin’s audiobook publishing, the expanded studios, and team, will enable PRH Audio to create more of its audiobooks in-house, PRH UK has said.
PRH Audio has been led by executive producer Roy McMillan since 2012, under whom it has seen the production of a number of audio bestsellers narrated by household names including Stephen Fry, Jeanette Winterson and Eddie Izzard. It has also been responsible for the creation of recordings such as Benedict Cumberbatch’s narration of The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli, Kate Winslet’s performance of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, and the Ladybird Audio Adventures series narrated by Ben Bailey-Smith and Sophie Aldred.
Thompson joins the team after eight years at audio and video production company Heavy Entertainment, where he most recently held the role of company director, overseeing all audiobook production and post-production. During his time at the company, he directed and engineered over 300 audiobooks, as well as driving its first audio original project, an audio short story competition in partnership with The Bookseller.
In 2017 Thompson won the Best Audiobooks/Readings Producer Award at the Audio Production Awards, as well as the Silver award winner in the same category in 2018. He has previously produced and engineered programmes and podcasts for BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service, The Bookseller and the BAFTAs.
In his new role, Thompson will report to Sam Halstead, editorial director, and work alongside McMillan (himself named Best Audiobooks/Readings Producer at the APAs in 2016) to record and produce audiobooks for Penguin Random House authors, working with high-profile narrator talent.
Thomson said: "I’m truly thrilled to be joining Penguin at such a vibrant time for audio. Penguin have long championed audio content and are increasingly keen to explore different avenues to enhance the listening experience for current and new audiences. I don’t doubt that the future of audio storytelling is here and I’m delighted to be on board."
Halstead added: "The opening of the new Penguin Studios and the expansion of our in-house production team is a landmark moment for us as an audio publisher. By bringing a greater number of our creative audio productions into the heart of Penguin Random House, we will be able to ensure that the audio experience here is an even more standout and creative one for authors and performers.
"The talent and passion in our team is what sets us apart and I am proud of everything we have achieved so far – but I am even more excited about what’s to come. Chris is a real talent, who I know will have a fantastic impact, and we are all thrilled to welcome him to the team."
In addition to Thompson's appointment, Penguin Random House Audio has also appointed Kate MacDonald as studio manager of Penguin Studios. MacDonald worked in Penguin Random House Audio’s operations team for 18 months and in her new role she will oversee the day-to-day running of Penguin Studios, as well as taking on some producing and directing work herself.
This expansion comes as part of a wider expansion in the Penguin Random House Audio team, which has recently recruited a further six roles across the editorial, marketing and operations teams. Penguin Random House Audio will also shortly begin recruitment for a junior producer role at Penguin Studios, to report to Thompson.
In the pipeline, upcoming audiobooks from Penguin Random House Audio include 13 new binaural editions of the bestselling Wimpy Kid series, as well as the release of 50 further titles into the Penguin Classics in Audio list scheduled throughout 2020, featuring narrators such as Louise Brealey, Christopher Eccleston, Adeel Akhtar, Kayvan Novak and Hayley Atwell.