Nick Fraser leaves BBC ‘Storyville’ to launch SVOD

In his new role, Fraser will now commission documentaries for subscription streamer Yaddo, which he has co-founded with producer Lawrence Elman, who serves as CEO.
September 28, 2016

Nick Fraser is stepping down as editor of the BBC’s ‘Storyville’ to launch the documentary streaming platform Yaddo.

The journalist and doc commissioner, who has led the strand since its inception 17 years ago, has been involved in more than 340 films, including Man on Wire, One Day In September, Reagan and India’s Daughter.

He will now commission documentaries for subscription-based streaming service Yaddo, which he has co-founded with producer Lawrence Elman, who serves as CEO. The platform will offer a mix of acquired and newly commissioned docs curated and handpicked by Fraser.

In a statement, Fraser said the service “will have an opinion, a personality and Yaddo will endorse, and stand behind, everything it shows. Yaddo won’t shy away from controversy and provocation.”

“Being involved in Yaddo is an exciting opportunity to be at the heart of the future of documentaries and how they are created,” he added.

Yaddo has plans to co-finance documentaries and has formed strategic partnerships with global broadcasters including DR, SVT, VPRO and Arte.

Commissions include Oink, an investigation into the role of pigs in the world economy; Unknown Male Number One, a four-part series about a murder case in Italy; Gawker vs Thiel, about the U.S. gossip website that was recently forced to shutter; Dog Fight, a doc about aerial combat; and Grime, about a female grime MC from a strict religious background.

The platform has also ordered several series of doc shorts from filmmakers in South Africa, Japan, England, the United States, France, Chile and Brazil.

Yaddo is rolling out in Europe at the end of this month and will enter 160 territories, including the United States, in November.

It will initially be available in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Subscriptions cost US$4.99 per month or €3.99 per month.

Fraser will also curate content and host monthly “Deep Dive” events that package titles around themes. The service will provide users with direct access to filmmakers and thematic events that revolve around current affairs and the filmmaking process.

Meanwhile, Storyville executive producer Kate Townsend will assume responsibility for the strand in the interim. A BBC spokesperson said it’s too early to confirm the pubcaster’s plans to replace Fraser.

“I’ve had such a fantastic time at the BBC. Creating and sustaining ‘Storyville’ has been more than I could ever imagine in terms of a fulfilling career,” Fraser said in a statement. “I really do think that the BBC is the greatest broadcasting organization in the world. I’m sad to go but I truly believe that nothing ever really comes to an end and I hope that I can continue to make fresh and exciting films and to work with the BBC in my new role.”

Documentaries that Fraser has been involved with have won four Oscars, five BAFTAs, 15 Griersons, three Peabodys, and three International Emmys. He also contributed to the global media efforts WHY Democracy? and WHY Poverty?

Cassian Harrison, channel editor for BBC4, said of Fraser: “Nick’s global reputation as a sponsor and supporter of the very best in documentaries is more than deserved, and the reach of his intelligence and curiosity is unending. We look forward to watching the fruits of his new endeavors, and he will always be a friend of the BBC.”

Originally launched on BBC2 in 1997, ‘Storyville’ is recognized globally as a home for ambitious narrative feature docs. It now airs on BBC4 and commissions and acquires films across a range of topics.

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.