UK’s ‘high-end’ TV production hits new record of $2.15bn

Deadwater Fell

High-end TV production in the UK was up by almost a third in 2019, hitting a record level of £1.66bn ($2.16bn) according to new figures revealed today.

The BFI’s Research and Statistics Unit report said production of shows such as Aisling Walsh’s Elizabeth Is Missing, Deadwater Fell and The Crown ensured spend over the past year was 29% up on 2018’s figure of £1.29bn.

It also represents the highest level of spending since the introduction of the UK’s tax relief scheme in 2013.

Domestic drops but co-pro’s climb

The BFI’s report said that the £1.66bn had been spent across 123 productions, with £371m spent on 49 domestic UK productions – a decrease of 14% on 2018. Key titles included the second season of Motherland, Mackenzie Crook’s Worzel Gummidge, Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy and the fifth run of Line Of Duty.

The spend on the 74 shows classed as “inward investment and co-production” was up 51% on 2018, hitting £1.29bn.

The North Water

Jon East’s Cursed, Andrew Haigh’s The North Water, Armando Iannucci’s Avenue 5 and the second season of Tom Hooper’s His Dark Materials were among notable drivers, the BFI said, along with Lena Dunham’s Industry and Owen Harris’s Brave New World.

Animation and film

The BFI said 2019 had seen 188 feature films go into production with a total spend of £1.9bn, a 6% increase on the previous year and the second highest recorded level of production spend.

Domestic UK films accounted for 94 films, with a total interim spend of £174m, representing a 46% decrease in the number of films and a 45% decrease in spend from £318m on the previous year.

However, the BFI added that the data did not reflect the fact that UK films have attracted international finance and were therefore classified as inward investment – such as Sam Mendes’s 1917 and Andy Serkis’s Venom 2.

On the animation front, 23 TV shows went into production in the UK in 2019, with a spend of £39m. Of these, 16 were domestic UK productions and seven were inward investment or co-productions. However, there is a significant time-lag with animation data with fuller reporting due later this year.

Indian investment

Across both film and TV, the data showed that considerable inward investment into production had come from Asia, with 29 Indian productions being made in the UK with a collective spend of £112m on movies such as  Amarjit Singh’s Jhalle, Sharan Art’s Galwakdi and Amrit Raj Chadha’s Parauhneya Nu Dafa Karo.

Nigel Adams, government minister for the UK’s creative industries, said the overall figures “show that our world-leading screen industries continue to thrive, attracting audiences all around the globe. The increase in inward investment reflects the UK’s acclaimed reputation as a home for fantastic talent and creativity in our film and television sectors.”

Amanda Nevill, CEO of the BFI, added that the data painted “an incredibly vibrant picture, a sector that continues to grow, delivering billions to the economy and a wide spectrum of jobs all over the UK.”

The UK spend and number of productions data are treated as interim results until they are consolidated later in the year, once final reporting is received.