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BBCS gets first chew on Gobstopper

MTV’s Just Tattoo of Us

BBC Studios (BBCS) has secured a first-look deal with Ross and Amy McCarthy’s Gobstopper Group, which has announced a new Belfast-based subsidiary called Mermaid Studios.

Under the agreement, BBCS will have priority access to the format slates of Gobstopper, Flying Saucer and Mermaid Studios, the trio of unscripted companies that make up the Gobstopper Group.

Gobstopper is behind shows such as Just Tattoo of Us for MTV International and Plastic Surgery Undressed for BBC3, while Flying Saucer most recently produced Jordan Banjo-fronted format Lose Weight Like Me for Channel 4.

Meanwhile, discussing the launch of Mermaid, the new outfit’s co-creative director Paddy Mckenna said: “Belfast is an exciting place to be making content. As a city, we’ve probably been somewhat overlooked in recent years compared to other nations’ hubs, but that’s changing.

“We’re delighted to get the backing and get running with the brief we’ve been given to create big, bold format ideas that will shake up the market.”

BBCS, as BBC Worldwide, was a co-investor in Gobstopper when it was first established in 2015. It was also the firm’s distribution partner until the business was sold to Keshet as part of a wider deal in 2018.

In late 2020, Gobstopper announced it had undertaken a management buyout to establish itself as “a true indie from its home in the North West” and was looking for a distribution partner.

In related news, BBCS has also secured a first-look deal with UK prodco Uplands TV, founded by historian and broadcaster David Olusoga and factual producer Mike Smith.

Negotiated through the BBCS Content Partnerships team, the three-year deal offers the BBC’s commercial arm the first look at Uplands’ development slate, with a particular focus on premium history, documentaries and landmark series.

Founded in 2017 by Smith and Olusoga, Uplands TV specialises in history, current affairs, specialist factual and travel and adventure programmes. Its catalogue includes The Unwanted: The Secret Windrush Files (BBC2), The Unremembered (C4) and Alt History (BBC iPlayer), as well as forthcoming history titles The Forgotten Empire (BBC2 and PBS) and One Thousand Years of Slavery (Channel 5/Smithsonian).



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