ITV Studios Entertainment rebrands & hires Syco’s creative director

Lee McNicholas

Love Island’s UK producer ITV Studios Entertainment has been rebranded as Lifted Entertainment and appointed a senior exec from The X Factor outfit Syco Entertainment to work across its creative output.

Lee McNicholas joins Lifted Entertainment as creative director for the company’s North division, with a remit to lead production and development from the company’s offices at MediaCityUK, Salford.

He will report into Lifted MD Angela Jain, whose division is behind entertainment shows including I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, Love Island, Dancing On Ice, The Voice, Countdown, University Challenge and Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

Dancing On Ice

The prodco’s team also includes director of entertainment Richard Cowles, fellow creative directors Tom Gould and Fiona Clark, plus head of development Kat Hebden.

McNicholas has spent the past decade as creative director and executive producer at Simon Cowell’s Syco, which last year took full control of Got Talent prodco Syco after striking a deal with Sony Music Entertainment.

He worked on Syco’s UK shows and global format remakes, and before that was worked across a variety of shows including Channel 4’s How Clean Is Your House and the BBC’s The Apprentice.

Secret commission

The newly rebranded division has also unveiled a pilot commission from ITV for Secret Gameshow, a hidden camera format in which celebrities compete for bragging rights as they take on stunts to fool unsuspecting members of the public into helping them.

Angela Jain

Jain said: “Lee brings a wealth of experience and expertise on huge global entertainment shows which, when added to the depth of the brilliant creative team we have here in Manchester, means he is in the perfect position to spearhead the next phase of growth in the North. I have no doubt he will be an inspiring, generous and kind leader who shares our values and vision for the future.

“With hope around the corner, it seems like we all need to be lifted out of our real lives at the moment. So many of the shows we produce bring joy and escapism, something I believe Secret Gameshow has in abundance.”

McNicholas said: “As a teenager growing up in Liverpool, I remember going on the Granada Studios tour and thinking one day I want to work here. To think after all these years I’ll be joining the incredible team in Manchester, really is a dream come true.”

Last week, ITVS revealed its revenues had taken a 25% hit over the past year after COVID impacted operations but parent broadcaster ITV said it was upbeat on advertising revenue in 2021 following the turbulence of the pandemic.

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