Lonely Planet co-founder buys stake in fact ent prodco

Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler (pictured) has invested in Melbourne-based producer Chemical Media and will star in the blue-chip doc series Tony Wheeler's History of Travel.
January 20, 2014

Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler (pictured) has invested in the Australian production company Chemical Media.

The Melbourne-based travel and factual entertainment prodco was established in 2011 by the team that ran Lonely Planet for several years. Its production slate includes a 10-part culinary adventure series set in remote locations around the world for Discovery Networks International and a health and well-being travel show for Discovery Asia starring celebrity chef Bobby Chinn.

Chemical Media’s first project with Wheeler will be the blue-chip documentary series Tony Wheeler’s History of Travel, which will recount the history of travel from the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to space tourism.

Wheeler and his wife Maureen founded travel book publisher Lonely Planet in 1973 and sold a 75% stake in the business to BBC Worldwide in 2007. The British broadcaster’s commercial arm acquired the Wheelers’ remaining stake in 2011 and then sold the company to American billionaire Brad Kelley’s NC2 Media.

“I’m thrilled to be involved with a start-up again,” he said in a statement. “Chemical Media is an exciting Australian company with a global outlook – much like Lonely Planet was in its prime.”

“Tony Wheeler is an astute investor and one of the most influential travellers alive,” added Chemical Media executive producer Tony Jackson. “With his pedigree and our experience making travel content, we’re well placed to be a world leader in travel and adventure programming.”

About The Author
Andrew Tracy joined Realscreen as associate editor in 2021, following 17 years as managing editor of the award-winning international film magazine Cinema Scope. From 2010 to 2020 he also held the position of senior editor at the Toronto International Film Festival, where he oversaw the flagship publication for the organization’s year-round Cinematheque programming and edited its first original monograph in a decade, Steve Gravestock’s A History of Icelandic Film. He was a scriptwriter and consultant on the first season of the Vice TV series The Vice Guide to Film, and his writing and reporting have been featured in such outlets as Cinema Scope, Reverse Shot, Sight & Sound, Cineaste, Film Comment, MUBI Notebook, POV, and Montage.