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BBCS prodco Lookout Point appoints Laura Lankester and Will Johnston as joint CEOs

Will Johnston and Laura Lankester

BBC Studios-owned drama prodco Lookout Point has named its new leadership team as current CEO Faith Penhale prepares to join European film studio Pathé to oversee its push into TV.

Executive producers Laura Lankester and Will Johnston will serve as joint CEOs, with Penhale stepping down at the end of the year.

Lankester, a former head of development at BBC Wales, has a decade-long working relationship with Johnston, who joined Lookout Point in 2016, with the two serving as executive producers on the event miniseries adaptation of A Suitable Boy for BBC One and Netflix on location in north India, alongside Penhale.

They also executive produced the BBC and HBO series Gentleman Jack from Sally Wainwright and previously developed Andrew Davies’ BBC adaptations of Les Misérables and War & Peace.

Lankester and Johnston take up their new roles at Lookout Point as it continues production on swashbuckling highwaywoman adventure series The Ballad of Renegade Nell for Disney+, one of the streamer’s first UK originals.

The company recently wrapped the first season of South African crime thriller Devil’s Peak, coproduced with Expanded Media, and the third and final instalment of the BBC One drama Happy Valley, coproduced with AMC.

Lookout Point has a minority stake in Shane Allen and Kate Daughton’s Boffola Pictures and is a coproducer with the comedy outfit on the forthcoming BBC commission Undoing Martin Parker and the first season of Am I Being Unreasonable?, which was recently renewed by the BBC.

As announced earlier this month, Penhale will join Pathé Productions, the company’s UK operation, as MD on March 1 next year to lead an expansion into television drama.

BBC Studios (then BBC Worldwide) took a 35% stake in Lookout Point in 2014 and extended that to 49% in 2016, before taking full ownership of the business in 2018.

Lankester and Johnston said in a joint statement: “Our time so far at Lookout Point has been a big adventure. We are excited to continue alongside the brilliant wider team and with the support of BBC Studios. We are proud of our shared track record with Faith delivering ambitious drama for big audiences, and we have learned so much from her.

“The new opportunity for us now is to lead together, to continue to enrich and diversify our programming and to offer talent the solidarity and support that comes from our close creative partnership.”

Mark Linsey, MD of scripted at BBC Studios, said: “Laura and Will are both fantastic creatives, with a strong track record in delivering ambitious, talked-about TV that grips audiences all over the world.

“They embody the DNA of Lookout Point while also bringing a renewed dynamism, fresh thinking and complementary perspectives to their joint-CEO roles, and creating shows that will deliver against the insatiable audience appetite for high-end drama.”

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