NBC Universal buys UK indie Monkey Kingdom

NBC Universal has acquired 100% of UK indie producer Monkey Kingdom. The deal is the first done by Michael Edelstein, the former Desperate Housewives exec producer who joined NBCU as president of TV production in June. The news broke yesterday in the US on the Deadline Hollywood website.

Monkey Kingdom was founded in 2001 by David Granger and Will Macdonald. Both worked with Chris Evans on the popular Friday night talkshow TFI Friday, which aired on Channel 4 in the UK in the late 1990s. The indie has made programmes including The Charlotte Church Show, Comedy Roasts, My Kind of Town and Newlyweds as well as digital series The Secret World of Sam King, which was transmitted on the Bebo social network.

Granger and Macdonald will continue to run the production company, reporting to NBCU managing director Gareth Neame. “We’re excited by their ambition and the scale of NBCU’s international expansion plans,” the pair said in a statement. “NBCU owns a huge number of exciting formats ripe for production outside the US, and we look forward to strengthening our ability to develop and sell new formats throughout the world.”

Monkey will join two other UK producers in the NBCU stable. Carnival was bought for about £30 million in August 2008 and a joint venture with Working Title TV (WTTV) was announced in February. The company continues to push for US$5 billion in revenues from its international businesses.

“We are in the process of transforming NBC Universal International into a leading destination for content creators,” Edelstein said. “Monkey has proven themselves as innovators in the non-scripted space, and we are excited to help build their business in the UK, US and around the world.”