Fiona Freed returns to ‘Real PD’ firm The Garden as joint-CEO Nicola Hill departs

Real PD

Nicola Hill, joint-CEO of ITV Studios-owned UK producer The Garden, is stepping down, with Fiona Freed returning to the company as chief operating officer.

Hill will exit the Real PD firm next month after more than a decade, first joining The Garden in 2012 as director of production, before being elevated to MD in 2018 and joint-CEO in 2021, alongside John Hay, following the departure of co-founder Magnus Temple.

Fiona Freed

Freed will rejoin the company, having first collaborated with The Garden on Channel 4’s Bedlam, before going on to serve as acting head of production and working on titles such as Channel 4’s 24 Hours in A&E and BBC Two’s Midwives.

She exited the firm to become head of production for factual, features & factual entertainment at Tiger Aspect and co-founded The Public Square, as an indie consultancy and multiplatform producer, in 2002.

Among her clients have been BBC Studios, Expectation, Big Deal Films, Raw, Netflix, the UK Government and The Garden. Most recently, Freed has advised and worked as interim MD at both Story Films and Chimp Television.

Freed’s arrival follows that of executive producers Helen Bart and Jo Harcourt-Smith at the end of last year, with the company recently working on titles such as Netflix’s Squid Game: The Challenge, as well as Alone and Dark Phone for Channel 4 and police format Real PD for Discovery+ in the US.

Recommissions have meanwhile included two new seasons of Emergency, 24 Hours in A&E and 24 Hours in Police Custody.

Hay said that Freed “brings a huge breadth of experience to this role” and praised her as a “superb creative manager with an enviable reputation for ensuring teams are looked after and supported, and for combining consistent success with a strong sense of decency and purpose.”

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