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Workerbee backs prodco Ty’r Ddraig set up by ex-development chief Ben Smith

Banijay UK‘s Workerbee Group has made its first investment in a production label by backing its former head of development Ben Smith’s fledgling Wrexham-based company.

Ben Smith

Ty’r Ddraig is being set up by Wrexham native Smith, who will take up the post of creative director and focus on producing high-volume popular factual series and features for both UK and international platforms.

The deal marks the first major production label investment by Manchester-based Workerbee Group since it revealed its plans to invest and forge creative partnerships in the North of England and Wales last year.

It began the push by signing a first-look coproduction deal with fellow UK prodco Made in Manchester earlier this year, while regional expansion is a focus for Banijay UK, which has a presence in Manchester, Scotland, Bristol and Wales.

An experienced TV creative, Smith has produced programmes out of the north-west for over 20 years, working in-house for the BBC and ITV, as well as at indies including Red Sauce, Shiver, True North and Workerbee, where he was latterly head of development.

In his most recent role as executive producer for Red Sauce, Smith oversaw productions from the Manchester base of Zinc Media.

He won commissions and executive produced series for a range of major broadcasters, including Legends of Comedy with Lenny Henry for Channel 4, as well as over 200 hours of the Bargain Loving Brits brand for Channel 5.

Rick Murray, CEO at Workerbee, said: “We know what a huge talent Ben is so jumped at the opportunity to invest in his Welsh label. Traditionally, Cardiff has attracted the most investment, but with its strong links to the fast-growing TV industry in the north-west of England, it feels like north-east Wales is ready to have its moment in the limelight.

“Supporting emerging, out of London companies was what the Workerbee Group was set up to do and this is the first of many deals to do just that.”

Smith added: “The idea of building something so significant in my hometown is a lifelong dream. Our goal is to work with the existing local production community and higher education to build an indie north-east Wales can be proud of.

“From the get-go we have plans to establish a number of apprenticeships at Ty’r Ddraig, training local talent in production, audio and post. I can’t wait to get going with our exciting slate of new ideas and to start producing factual programmes for the widest possible audience. We also have a number of soon-to-be announced collaborations on network series with local companies in the region.”

Patrick Holland, CEO of Banijay UK, said the company’s investment plans are “all about empowering talent, and backing a great talent like Ben as he builds his base in North Wales makes enormous strategic and creative sense.”

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