Finance outfit Anton is launching a “fully-fledged” TV-focused production division and has appointed Fremantle’s ex-director of global drama, Sarah Doole, and its former COO, Sangeeta Desai, to lead the expansion.
Doole becomes creative director, while Desai will lead overall operations, strategy and business development for Anton, which has been behind series including The Pursuit of Love, His Dark Materials and Gentleman Jack for the BBC.
The unit will aim to replicate Anton’s strategy in film by creating “a boutique, independent TV studio” that will look to attract creatives to launch scripted labels across Europe. Direct and first-look deals with established on- and off-screen talent are being sought.
Doole and Desai were among the execs that kickstarted Fremantle’s scripted expansion a decade ago, leading to hits such as the Deutschland trilogy, My Brilliant Friend, Beecham House, Picnic At Hanging Rock and The Salisbury Poisonings.
Doole was most recently founder & CEO of talent incubator Sow the Seed, which she launched in 2022 after stepping down as CEO at Red Production Company following an 18-month stint that saw her replace ITV Studios-bound Nicola Shindler.
Prior to that, she had led Fremantle’s global drama arm for seven years, having joined from BBC Studios, where she had been creative director of drama & head of indie drama, with credits on Sherlock, Gavin & Stacey and Call The Midwife among numerous others.
Desai was most recently interim CEO at Middle East operator OSN and before that was COO & CEO of emerging markets at Fremantle, which she joined following a stint at HIT Entertainment.
The pair are joined by Anton’s current VP of production & development, Jack Buckley, who has been promoted to become head of development. The Gunpowder and Sky alum will oversee series co-productions and the new indie slates, while Millie Laubscher is development assistant.
Anton, which is based out of London but also has offices in LA, Paris and Berlin, claims to have produced and/or financed over 400 titles since inception, including film franchises such as Paddington, Shaun The Sheep and Greenland, with Mothers’ Instinct among its upcoming slate.
It has previously worked with BBC Studios, striking a drama funding deal in 2019 that was designed to help the UK pubcaster’s commercial arm to self-commission content.
The financier also agreed a deal with former BBCS exec Tobi de Graaf’s Beiboot in 2020 and helped to fund BBCS productions such as McMafia and Les Miserables, while European pacts with firms including Federation Entertainment and TF1-owned Newen have previously been forged.
Anton said the TV production division launch would be followed by a “significant increase” in the number of projects it will develop, produce and finance, with further details to be announced later in the year.
Anton CEO, Sebastien Raybaud, said: “I’m delighted that Sangeeta and Sarah are joining Anton to launch and run our new TV arm. Their expertise, experience and enthusiasm will be invaluable. This move marks an important milestone in the development of the company.”
Desai added: “Anton has quickly gained a reputation for shaking up the way feature films are financed and produced, and I’m excited to explore how we can take advantage of Anton’s agility and flexibility to offer some of Europe’s best creatives the chance to realise their ambitions.”