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
Daniele Alcinii is a news editor at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joined the RS team in 2015 with experience in journalism following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and with communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.