The writers of hit comedy series â€œPeep Showâ€ (pictured) and â€œFresh Meatâ€ have teamed up with a pair of well-known British commissioning executives to create new independent production company Various Artists Limited.
Writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong and ex-Channel 4 commissioning execs Phil Clarke and Roberto Troni have set up the new company with backing from BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, which has a 20% stake and is expected to sell Various Artists content internationally. The new indie will specialize in comedy and comedy-drama as well as straight drama.
Bain and Armstrong are among the best-known comedy writers in the U.K., working with Clarke on several Channel 4 projects. Clarkeâ€™s commissions while at the broadcaster included the pairâ€™s latest series, â€œBack,â€ as well as Sharon Horganâ€™s â€œCatastrophe.â€ Clarke also worked with the writers while at Objective, the All3Media producer that makes â€œPeep Show.â€ Troni worked on shows such as Paul Abbottâ€™s â€œNo Offenceâ€Â and acclaimed drama seriesÂ â€œThis Is England.â€
The news had been expected after Clarkeâ€™s departure from Channel 4 earlier this year, and was made official Thursday. â€œWe are delighted to have BBC Worldwide as our backer,â€ Clarke said. â€œThey are incredibly supportive, understand the realities of producing scripted television and the editorial strategies and timescales required, as well as the commercial challenges of running a new production company.â€
In a statement, Armstrong and BainÂ added: â€œWeâ€™re excited to have the backing of BBC Worldwide, [which has] a great track record in backing both comedy and drama. Whatâ€™s more, as their name suggests, they have access to the whole wide world.â€
Several attempts have been made to make a U.S. version of â€œPeep Show.â€ Fox was developing a U.S. show at one point, cable net Spike piloted a version, and premium cabler Starz has also tried to work up a U.S. series.
BBC Worldwide has been actively investing in British independent producers. It has stakes in companies including Lookout Point, 72 Films, Two Cities, and Mighty Productions.
â€œPhil and Robertoâ€™s flawless track records in comedy and drama, coupled with the opportunity of a first look over television projects created by Sam and Jesse, makes this a particularly exciting creative and commercial opportunity for BBC Worldwide,â€ saidÂ Jonathan Blyth, commercial director, comedy, at BBC Worldwide.