Television Business International

Working Title UK hires ex-BBC comedy chief

Scripted-logo-460_2Mark FreelandWorking Title Television UK has hired former BBC comedy chief Mark Freeland to run its comedy unit.

He will join the NBCUniversal International Studios (NBCUIS)-backed producer as head of television comedy, working closely with Andrew Woodhead, managing director of Working Title Television, as well as NBCUIS president Michael Edelstein and executive VP of scripted JoAnn Alfano.

Based out of London, he begins in his new post immediately at the prodco, which is behind Sky comedies such as You, Me and the Apocalypse and Yonderland.

Freeland was previously the BBC’s top comedy exec, but left before BBC Studios was established as a commercial subsidiary of UK pubcaster the BBC. Upon leaving, he criticised the new model, claiming it would hamper his creative abilities.

Freeland was a member of the BBC board, and between 2014 and his exit was controller of fiction and entertainment. This put him in charge of production for comedy and drama at BBC Studios, and he was also a key exec for partnerships, including the AMC Networks joint venture cable channel BBC America.

He had also been head of BBC comedy commissioning in a previous spell. In all, Freeland executive produced shows including The Wrong Mans, The Thick of It, Miranda, Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, Mrs Browns Boys, Citizen Khan and Vic & Bob’s House of Fools while at the Corporation. He was also head of original programmes at satcaster Sky and a freelance producer at Sherlock prodco Hartswood Films.

“We are excited for Mark to join the team to complement Andrew Woodhead as we continue to expand our television business in the UK,” said Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, Working Title’s co-chairmen. “Working Title has a long history of producing great comedy with some of the best talent in the business and we look forward to working with Mark to build on that legacy.”

“Working Title has been behind some of the most original comedy storytelling ever dreamt up, including my favourite movie of all time,” said Freeland. “So I feel very lucky indeed joining such an iconic, creative company. To have been given a wonderful opportunity to build something special and work with the most exciting comedy talent in the UK, getting their work produced here and abroad. And yes it is Fargo.”

Working Title TV operates as a joint venture within the NBCUIS stable.