Granada Media Group, which owns factual production arms at Granada, Yorkshire Tyne Tees and lwt, is to centralize all production of ‘drama documentaries’ at Granada Television as part of a plan to ramp up production of the genre.
The move involves a shake-up of responsibilities, which will see current head of factual drama, Ian McBride, take up the role of managing editor of all factual programs. In his place, Jeff Pope, currently head of factual drama at lwt, will take on the same role at the beefed-up Granada operation. Mark Redhead will also move from lwt as executive producer, factual drama.
Granada Television director of programs, Simon Shaps, says, ‘Granada has had an enviable track record in drama documentary. But now we plan to build up our expertise by adding a different style of factual drama which is more like a movie-of-the-week than the type of journalistic film that Granada has traditionally produced.’
Pope’s credits to date have been popular ratings hits on itv. Best known among them: Fool’s Gold, based on a famous British gold bullion robbery; The One That Got Away, which depicts the sas’ covert activities in Iraq; and Place of the Dead, which tells the story of a group of British soldiers lost in the jungles of Borneo.
Shaps says the move is in part a reflection of the fact that the new management at itv – Granada’s biggest customer – is ‘keen on drama documentaries. We believe they are a powerful form of program and that itv does them better than anyone.’
Shaps stresses, however, that the re-shuffle is also designed to take Granada’s production activities into new arenas. He’s currently discussing a project with hbo which will tell the story of the u.s. soldiers’ invasion of Somalia. ‘We must look further afield if we are to increase our production output,’ he says. ‘So far we have concentrated on u.k. stories for a u.k. audience. But we need to find ideas that have a life elsewhere.’
In his new role McBride’s remit will be the World in Action strand, which earlier this year lost a long-running court battle with retailer Marks and Spencers over allegations made in an investigation two years ago. The court ruled Granada must pay £500,000 in damages.