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Elk, Friday TV’s Millgårdh dies aged 53

Jock Millgårdh, the Swedish TV veteran and co-founder of production companies including Friday TV and Elk Entertainment Group, has died aged 53.

Jock Millgårdh

Millgårdh worked at Strix Television before co-founding Stockholm-based producer Friday TV in 2004 with Estelle Bodén, Mattias Olsson and Metronome Film & Television.

Friday TV was behind an array of formats including Minute to Win It and Clash of the Choirs, both of which were sold around the world and aired on NBC in the US.

The prodco was later acquired by Metronome and became part of Shine Group after the UK production company acquired the Nordic outfit in 2011, with Millgårdh departing a year later.

He then joined up with Olsson and Bodén to launch Elk Entertainment Group, working as head of development on numerous shows for Nordic and international broadcasters. ITV Studios took a majority stake in Elk Entertainment’s production arm, Elk Production, in 2017.

Elk’s slate includes competition format Garden Masters, which was ordered by Norway’s TV2, while comedy-reality format All Inclusive was produced for Sjuan in Sweden and remade by others including NPO3 in the Netherlands and RTL2 in Germany.

It is also behind gameshows Odd One Out and Pyramid of Dreams for TV4 in Sweden, along with physical competition format Invincible.

Elk Entertainment, which is headed by Bodén, confirmed Millgårdh’s death on its website, saying it was “deeply saddened to inform you that our dear friend and colleague Jock Millgårdh, co-founder of Elk Entertainment, has suddenly passed away on January 5 at the age of 53 in his home town Stockholm. All our thoughts are with Jock’s family.”

Paul Telegdy, co-chairman at NBC Entertainment, worked with Millgårdh on the US versions of some of his Nordic formats. “We first met Jock almost exactly 10 years ago, when he pitched Minute to Win It to NBC,” Telegdy said today.

“The pitch had a brilliantly creative animated promo, which we have tried to copy so many times. The concept was so simple and pure and positive. The heart of the concept was Jock, a quiet Swede with a twinkle in his eye. It became a hit show at a dark time for NBC, and it embodied what we were trying to be.”

Telegdy added that “hearing about Jock’s passing has put a huge dark cloud over the start of the year. It reminds us of the struggles that many face with life. I can only imagine what his family and close colleagues are going through. We will honour him by making shows like the ones he helped create and design: positive, human and ingenious – that was Jock.”

Fredrik Arefalk, channel manager at Bonnier’s TV4, and its content manager, Åsa Sjöberg, said Millgårdh’s death was “unbelievable and painful for many of us who have worked within television for a long time, and enjoyed the great privilege of getting to know Jock.”

They described him as one of the “sharpest television creators – analytical, well read and constantly curious,” while Axel Eriksson, content director at Discovery Networks, said his passing was “indescribably sad.”

Eva Hamilton, former CEO of SVT, told Sweden’s Dagens Media that Millgårdh’s “creativity was breathtaking and boundless, but always paired with deep knowledge of television as a medium,” adding that he held “good judgment and integrity.”

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Drama Awards 2019
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