Anton, Fremantle & BBC Studios exec Sarah Doole dies aged 63

Sarah Doole

Anton and former Fremantle exec Sarah Doole has passed away, aged 63.

The news was confirmed today by Anton, which had hired the experienced drama exec as creative director last year to oversee its push into production.

Deutschland 86

Doole was 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.

Prior to Anton, she was 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.

She had also been creative director of drama & head of indie drama for BBC Worldwide (now BBC Studios), with credits on Sherlock, Gavin & Stacey and Call The Midwife among numerous others.

Anton said that Doole had passed away on Monday, 15 January, surrounded by her family and loved ones, following a battle with breast cancer.

Sangeeta Desai, board member of Anton’s TV Studio, said: “Sarah and I joined Fremantle at the same time in 2013, and since then she has been my creative partner and advisor in the scripted TV business.

“She was instrumental in building Fremantle’s Global Drama business into what it is today and even in her short time at Anton, she infused us with her creativity, positivity and passion and has left us with a lasting legacy on screen, in our team and in our slate.

“Since her death, tributes have poured in from across the globe and I am overwhelmed by the number of people within the industry who have remarked on how she supported them and lifted them up in their careers.

“That sums up Sarah to a tee – she was a builder – a builder of content, people and companies, and she never looked for any recognition or commendation in return. She was the best colleague and friend that I could have asked for and I will miss her tremendously.”

Sherlock

David Liddiment added: “Sarah Doole stood out from the crowd as a TV executive and not just because of the stylish colourful clothes which became her trademark.

“As Fremantle’s director of Global Drama, she was committed to uncovering new stories which illuminated as well as entertained. She encouraged new talent on every level, was accessible to all and championed greater diversity in the workforce.

“Providing coherence and leadership to a scatter of production companies across the world had its challenges. Sarah battled against defensiveness, cynicism, sexism, and snobbery and countered with transparency, best practice and collaboration. And she prevailed because she was persuasive, arguing calmly whilst quietly disarming obstacles until the sense of her position was undeniable. In short Sarah Doole stood out because she was one of the best.”

Jennifer Mullin, group CEO at Fremantle, commented: “Those who had the pleasure of working with Sarah, will know that she was a true creative, and a driving force. Her passion and her energy had no limits. She helped lay the strong foundations of our Global Drama business and was a brilliant leader. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this time.”

Doole founded Sow the Seed in August 2020, with the organisation acting as an incubator focusing on under-represented groups with a view to exploiting media and platforms such as podcasts, literature, art, fashion and TV to allow them to be heard.

She is survived by her husband, Chris.

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