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Donna Wiffen leaving FremantleMedia, will oversee new UK prodco

Donna-Wiffen Donna Wiffen is exiting FremantleMedia and has been brought in as a consultant to run a new UK production company, Duchess Street Productions.

The new drama prodco has been set up by media advisory firm Bob & Co, and its first project will be a TV version of Jeffrey Archer’s bestselling book series The Clifton Chronicles.

TBI understands that Wiffen (pictured) will leave FremantleMedia on June 30.

She was director of worldwide drama at the RTL-owned company before a reshuffle at the end of last year saw her moved to a position overseeing scripted content in the Middle East. Having joined from BBC Worldwide in February 2013 as creative director, drama, Sarah Doole became director, global drama as part of the rejig.

In her new role at Duchess, Wiffen will put together a team at the fledggling prodco and advise on development and pre-production across a slate  of initial projects.

The new prodco will specialise in producing high-end original drama and dramatic adaptations, and sees Bob & Co expand further into TV and branch out from advising on the development of content for film and theatre.

It has acquired rights to The Clifton Chronicles, a seven-book series written by former UK Member of Parliament and novelist Jeffrey Archer and first published in 2011. Set in Bristol, UK, the books cover a period from 1919 to 1940 and recount a family drama and mystery surrounding main protagonist Harry Clifton.

Wiffen will oversee the project. She said: “The Clifton Chronicles is an epic saga that lends itself perfectly to adaptation as a quality primetime drama with commercial viability and international appeal. Bob & Co is well-established in its work advising, developing and facilitating successful TV, film and theatre productions, and the addition of Duchess Street Productions will create a real synergy with Bob & Co’s film and theatre projects.”

portrait_timcorrieRGBBob Benton, founder, Bob & Co, said: “We are delighted to have Donna Wiffen on board to head up Duchess Street Productions, initially as a consultant. Her expertise in the TV drama genre, combined with Bob & Co’s experience in developing strong creative content and IP with commercial value, will be instrumental in expanding the company’s catalogue and bringing high-quality dramas to the screen.”

The London-based advisory firm recently recruited former Bafta chairman and United Artists boss Tim Corrie (pictured) as non-executive chairman.

Speaking to TBI soon after taking up the position he said that there is huge potential to develop international drama out of the UK: “Five years ago in television, the number of places [in the UK] you could approach for development financing was very small – the BBC, ITV and Sky, which was emerging,” he said. “Suddenly, we’re looking at complete globalisation.”

Read TBI’s coproduction feature ‘Meet the fixers’ here