BBC Studios (BBCS) has struck a first-look deal with David Olusoga and Mike Smith’s UK-based production company Uplands TV.
The three-year deal will hand the BBC’s commercial arm a first look at Uplands’ development slate, with a particular focus on premium history, documentaries and landmark series. The pact was negotiated through BBCS’s content partnerships team.
Uplands, which was founded in 2017 by Smith and Olusoga, focuses on history, current affairs, specialist factual and travel & adventure programmes, with an aim to make shows “relevant and accessible to audiences of all backgrounds”.
Its catalogue includes The Unwanted: The Secret Windrush Files for BBC Two, The Unremembered for Channel 4, and Alt History for the BBC’s streamer iPlayer. Upcoming history titles include the BBC and PBS show The Forgotten Empire, and One Thousand Years Of Slavery for Channel 5 in the UK and Smithsonian.
Mark Linsey, BBCS chief creative officer, said: “Mike and David create television that is both accessible to watch and thought-provoking. They are experts in story-telling, using their background in history and programme-making to engage and enlighten audiences, even on difficult subject matters. This makes their work fresh, unique and inclusive, which is why we’re so glad that their new projects will become part of the BBC Studios catalogue.”
Smith and Olusoga said in a statement: “Our ambition in founding Uplands TV was to create television that brought a diverse range of factual stories and history to life which would appeal to a range of audiences in Britain and across the world. We know that Mark and his team share our passion and that BBC Studios – with its global footprint – can help us to realise that ambition. We can’t wait to see where our next projects take us.”
Smith has produced over a hundred hours of factual TV for broadcasters such as the BBC, Channel Four and Sky, including Sacred Rivers and The Unremembered, while Olusoga is a historian, broadcaster and film-maker, whose most recent TV series include Black And British: A Forgotten History.
The deal was revealed as BBCS conducted its virtual Showcase this week, an online version of the annual sales event that attracts around 700 buyers to the organisation’s programming.