EXCLUSIVE: StudioCanal is returning to the UK television production investment scene as it finalizes a deal with an outfit co-founded by a Vigil and Downton Abbey director.
The French production group will back Strong Film & Television, which was co-founded by BAFTA-winner James Strong and Matt Tombs, a former BBC and Paramount executive.
Strong Film & Television was established in late 2020 and appears to have added Loretta Preece to its ranks. Preece was most recently the series producer on Casualty, the long-running, BAFTA-winning BBC continuing drama.
StudioCanal is close to finalizing an announcement for the investment, which would mark one of its first notable television deals in the UK for years.
In 2016, the Canal+ Group company took stakes in Urban Myth Films, producer of Fox’s War of the Worlds, and SunnyMarch, co-founded by Benedict Cumberbatch.
StudioCanal has not been inactive in the acquisitions space but has focused on cementing its positions in existing partners, taking full control of Urban Myth and Tandem Productions in the past three years.
StudioCanal’s other British partners include Red Production Company, which produced Channel 4’s It’s A Sin, and Guilty Party Pictures, recently commissioned to make Netflix comedy special A Whole Lifetime featuring Stath Lets Flats star Jamie Demetriou.
Strong Film & Television pledged to make “contemporary, emotional and bold” dramas when it launched in 2020. Strong’s other credits include Broadchurch and Doctor Who. Tombs oversaw a BBC project to upgrade the set of EastEnders, the soap opera, and has worked as a scheduler at the British broadcaster.
French production groups have forged strong ties with UK companies, with the likes of Banijay, Mediawan, and Newen making moves in recent years. Drama has been a particular area of focus.
StudioCanal declined to comment.