Banijay-owned production firm Workerbee Group is backing a new start-up from its former head of development, Red Sauce exec producer Ben Smith (Tyson v Bruno, Bargain Loving Brits).
Ty’r Ddraig will be based in Wrexham in Wales and marks the first major production label investment by Workerbee, which has been behind The Bridge for Channel 4 and Idris Elba’s Fight School for BBC Two.
It follows the launch of Banijay UK’s £50m ($60m) Growth Fund, which was revealed in February and aims to fuel growth in scripted, reality, premium documentaries and factual entertainment over the next 3-5 years.
Ben Smith prodco
The new label will be led by Smith, who becomes creative director, and will focus on producing high volume popular factual series and features for both UK and international platforms.
Smith was most recently exec producer at Zinc Media-owned Red Sauce in Manchester, and – aside from Workerbee – has also worked for the BBC and ITV, as well as Shiver and True North.
He has secured commissions including Legends Of Comedy With Lenny Henry for Channel 4, as well as Zinc Media’s record 200 hour-order around the Bargain Loving Brits brand for Channel 5.
The deal marks further expansion for Workerbee, which unveiled plans to build a “northern production powerhouse” in the UK via a strategy of acquisition, investment and creative partnerships in November.
It also restructured to create distinct films and formats business divisions and has struck a multi-project deal with Scottish director and producer Kevin Macdonald.
Rick Murray, CEO of Workerbee, said: “We know what a huge talent Ben is so jumped at the opportunity to invest in his Welsh label. Traditionally, Cardiff has attracted the most investment, but with its strong links to the fast-growing TV industry in the North West of England, it feels like North East Wales is ready to have its moment in the limelight.
“Supporting emerging, out of London companies was what the Workerbee Group was set up to do and this is the first of many deals to do just that.”
Smith added that the new firm would establish apprenticeships and train local talent in production, audio and post, while collaborations with local prodcos are soo to be announced.
“The idea of building something so significant in my hometown is a lifelong dream. Our goal is to work with the existing local production community and higher education to build an indie North East Wales can be proud of.
Patrick Holland, CEO Banijay UK said: “The Growth Fund is all about empowering talent, and backing a great talent like Ben as he builds his base in North Wales, makes enormous strategic and creative sense.”