France's TF1 teams with TV producer to launch London-based drama studio

David Prior's picture
by David Prior

France's biggest commercial TV company is to launch a major new English language drama production company in London in a move to create a rival to Netflix and Amazon.

Ringside Studios will be a joint venture between TF1's Newen division and TV producer Gub Neal, the former Controllder of Drama at Granada TV and Head of Drama at Channel 4 best known for Prime Suspect, Cracker and Queer as Folk.

It will create original dramas as well as English versions of existing foreign language series.

Neal said it was an attempt to redress the balance in Europe given the huge investment in London's production sector from the likes of Netflix, Amazon and HBO.

He said: “There is a real appetite in Europe for premium English language content that used to be available but is now hard to acquire because so much of our talent is being bought up by the same US buyers.

"We don’t want to get into a situation where we are largely serving a US market.

“The Crown, Downton Abbey and so on are fine but we also share a lot of common history with Europe. It seems to me that at a time we are leaving Europe politically, we do not want to leave it culturally.”

Neal previously founded Box TV, which was behind Martin Scorsese’s Bob Dylan biopic No Direction Home pictured), before selling it to DCD Media. His next project was Artists Studio, producer of The Fall and Combat Hospital, which he sold to Endemol Shine.

Neal, who said he already had a slate of shows in production, added to City AM: “We will be able to collaborate with teams from Belgium, Scandinavia, France, all over, to create an alternative to the US conglomerates.”

Newen is the majority owner of the new venture, with financer and co-producer DoveTale Media also involved.