BBC Showcase: Studios backs Luther commissioner’s drama prodco

BBC Studios has taken a minority stake in a new scripted prodco from Luther commissioner Elizabeth Kilgarriff and Craig Holleworth.

Kilgarriff most recently served as senior commissioning editor for drama, while Holleworth was head of business. Their new outfit, Firebird Pictures, has agreed a distribution deal with BBC Studios in addition to the investment.

Kilgarriff has 20 years’ experience in scripted, serving as a script editor, creative director, producer, EP and commissioner.

She joined BBC commissioning in August 2015 from BBC Productions and has since been responsible for Bodyguard, The Cry, J.K. Rowling’s Strike series, The ABC Murders, Poldark, Doctor Foster 2, McMafia, Hard Sun, Informer, a fifth series of Luther and BBC Two’s forthcoming MotherFatherSon.

She also oversaw short-form series Overshadowed by BBC Three.

Meanwhile, Holleworth will be Firebird’s chief operating officer. The exec has a long-standing working relationship with Kilgarriff and has run business and operations for drama, BBC Films and its programme acquisitions over a number of years.

He has brokered deals for shows such as Doctor Who, Peaky Blinders, Sherlock, and the forthcoming Dracula and His Dark Materials.

He also led BBC Content’s co-production commercial strategy as well as delivering more content for BBC iPlayer.

Kilgarriff said: “I’ve loved every minute of my time with the BBC, working with the very best creative talent on and off screen. Now feels like an exciting time to be stepping forward into a new venture and building bold and distinctive shows for a global market. Craig and I share a vision to make Firebird a place where all story-tellers are inspired and supported to do their best work.”

Holleworth added: “It’s such an exciting time for drama producers at the moment and we can’t wait to be part of it. BBC Studios understands the ethos of the company we want to create and we’re delighted that they will be our partner and distributor.”

Mark Linsey, BBC Studios’ chief creative officer, said: “I couldn’t be more excited about our involvement in what promises to be a unique production company, where both established and emerging writers will be encouraged to do their greatest work, delivering ambitious, original and mainstream series. Liz is a force of nature when it comes to working with new talent and creating high quality content, and her producing and commissioning experience at the highest level means she brings a clear understanding of the industry and its current needs. And coupled with Craig’s flair for ensuring some of the biggest global TV hits of recent years have the right support to realise their ambitions, Firebird Pictures is off to a flying start.”

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