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Alef One launches UK scripted arm headed by Blue Lights, Trigger Point director

Gilles Bannier and Nora Melhli

Paris-based production company Alef One is launching a high-end scripted arm in London led by Gilles Bannier, the writer and director behind BBC drama Blue Lights and ITV’s Trigger Point.

Alef UK will be headed by Bannier as creative director and will be a stand-alone subsidiary of Paris-based production house Alef One, led by Nora Melhli (The Tunnel, Carlos Ghosn: The Last Flight).

Alef UK says it will build its own slate of programming for the international market with an emphasis on contemporary drama, reflecting diversity and societal change in all parts of the world.

For its launch, Alef UK has secured an option on Mind Reader, a thriller by Scottish-American crime writer Iain Levison. Levison’s books have been widely published in France, with some successfully adapted for the screen.

Screenwriter Jonathan Wakeham (To Catch a Killer) is attached to adapt Mind Reader into a six episode returning series.

Bannier said: “As an independent unit, we are free to choose projects which we are passionate about and believe in 100%. Nora and I will be working closely with like-minded UK, European and US partners to build truly collegial co-productions and explore our network of writers, directors and wider creative talent.”

Melhli adds: “Our priority at Alef One is to tell universal stories that push the boundaries of society and shake off taboos. I particularly wanted someone at the helm of our UK operation who would share these values. It was also important to ensure that we had an experienced creative at the forefront of our business and, with Gilles, we have just that person – he has a great eye for a relatable story, is not afraid to break convention, as well as having vast experience and a wide range of industry connections across all disciplines to make the best and most accessible content possible.”

French-born Bannier has lived in London for almost 10 years. He most recently directed the first season of Blue Lights for BBC One. Prior to this he directed the first season of Trigger Point for Hat Trick/ITV. He worked on the first and second season of Tin Star, starring Tim Roth, for Sky Atlantic/Kudos. He was also lead director on Danny Brocklehurst’s crime drama In The Dark for BBC One and directed two seasons of The Tunnel for Kudos/Shine France/Sky Atlantic/Canal+.

Nora Melhli joined forces to create Alef One in 2018 with Jacques Arthur Essebag who founded Satisfaction Group which produces more than 1,000 hours of TV content every year.

Since then, she has been developing and producing films and series such as Flight MH370, Carlos Ghosn: The Last Flight, more recently the TF1 hit, The Nanny, for the French and international markets (Canal+, BBC, Arte, MBC, ViaPlay, FTV).

Prior to this Melhli was creative director of originals at the Altice Group, where she developed the group’s international cinema and series strategy and coproduced the series The Medici, Riviera, Britannia and Tin Star.

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