Banijay is expanding its US format ties by hiring an exec from Fox Alternative Entertainment (FAE) to work with Natalka Znak, the recently appointed CEO of UK prodcos Remarkable Entertainment, Initial and Znak TV.
Claire O’Donohoe becomes director of programmes at Banijay in the UK, where she will work with her long-time creative collaborator Znak, who was hired by the France-based production & distribution giant in December.
The appointment came at the same time as Banijay’s acquisition of her prodco, Znak TV.
O’Donohoe will be tasked with taking UK formats from the creative teams at Remarkable, Initial and Znak TV – whose output includes Pointless, Starstruck, The Wall, Soccer Aid, Tenable and Big Brother – to US buyers.
Her remit also includes “reinvigorating” the company’s legacy brands for the UK, Banijay said, with formats such as Big Brother out of commission in the UK since ViacomCBS-owned Channel 5 axed its version in 2018.
O’Donohoe has worked in formats for more than two decades in the US and the UK, most recently as SVP & head of current at FAE, Fox’s in-house unscripted production arm.
She worked on commissioning and launching shows such as The Masked Singer and I Can See Your Voice, and before that had a stint at Zodiak US, where she produced local versions of formats including Wife Swap for ABC and Secret Millionaire for Fox
O’Donohoe began her career at ITV Studios and Endemol, where she executive produced Big Brother and Celebrity Big Brother, as well as formats such as Hell’s Kitchen, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here and Pop Stars.
Znak said O’Donohoe’s “ability to spot a hit and supersize it, together with her contacts and knowledge in both the US and UK make her a huge asset to the business.”
O’Donohoe added: “Not only does Banijay have an incredible catalogue of legacy formats that are close to my heart, but there is a thrilling amount of new and exciting ideas to bring to both the UK & US markets.”
The hire is the latest appointment for Banijay UK, which named BBC’s factual chief Patrick Holland as exec chairman to replace the outgoing Peter Salmon in December.
That came two weeks after Banijay had revealed its deal for Znak TV, the US-focused firm launched by Natalka Znak in 2021 after she stepped away from Sky Studios-owned Ultimate Tag producer Znak & Co. Znak TV retained the entertainment IP from Znak & Co.
Prior to that, Znak had been CEO of Zodiak USA and controller of factual entertainment for ITV Studios.