BBC Studios has inked a first look deal with Ross and Amy McCarthy‘s Gobstopper Group, which houses unscripted outfits Gobstopper and Flying Saucer TV, as the entertainment indie adds a third prodco to its banner.
The agreement will give BBC Studios priority access to the format slates from the group’s portfolio of companies, which now includes Belfast-based Mermaid.
Mermaid will be helmed by Paddy McKenna, the former head of development at Stellify who developed and produced Netflix’s Flinch, and Neil Dimmock, previously the series editor of BBC1′s Sunday Morning Live.
The prodco is the second company launched since Gobstopper exited Greenbird in early 2020.
Gobstopper is responsible for such titles as Just Tattoo of Us (MTV International) and Plastic Surgery Undressed (BBC3), while Flying Saucer most recently produced the Jordan Banjo-fronted format Lose Weight Like Me for Channel 4, which will form part of the first-look deal.
This is not the first time BBC Studios and Gobstopper have worked together.
BBC Studios, then BBC Worldwide, was a co-investor in Gobstopper when it was first established in 2015 and acted as distribution partner until the business was sold to Keshet as part of a wider deal in 2018.
In late 2020, Gobstopper announced that it had undertaken a management buyout to establish itself as “a true indie from its home in the North West” and was looking for a distribution partner.
Mark Linsey, BBC Studios’ chief creative officer, said in a statement: “We’re really excited to be working with Ross, Amy and the teams within the Gobstopper Group again. Their slates and development plans wowed us when we saw them; they’re brimming with quality, shot through with the uniqueness you come to expect of the Gobstopper brand.”
On Mermaid’s launch, Mckenna said: “Belfast is an exciting place to be making content; as a city we’ve probably been somewhat overlooked in recent years compared to other nation’s hubs but that’s changing. We’re delighted to get the backing and get running with the brief we’ve been given to create big, bold format ideas that will shake up the market.”
Gobstopper expects to invest in further new labels in 2021.