Extra: Fremantle taps head of DEI; Red Arrow nabs “Controlling Britney Spears”

Fremantle hires Babita Bahal to lead DE&I Global producer-distributor Fremantle has appointed Babita Bahal to the newly-created role of group head of diversity, equity and inclusion. Reporting to HR director Nicky Gray, Bahal ...
September 27, 2021

Fremantle hires Babita Bahal to lead DE&I

Global producer-distributor Fremantle has appointed Babita Bahal to the newly-created role of group head of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Reporting to HR director Nicky Gray, Bahal (pictured) will drive Fremantle’s global DE&I initiatives as part of the company’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Bahal joins Fremantle from Channel 4, where she was head of creative diversity and led a team tasked with ensuring the broadcaster continued to improve both on- and off-screen representation. Prior to joining Channel 4, Bahal was the diversity and inclusion lead for BBC Content where she worked with channel controllers, commissioning teams and production companies to discover and develop talent from under-represented backgrounds.

“Babita brings a wealth of experience that will help accelerate our efforts in continuously shaping a more diverse and inclusive culture. We have a responsibility as an organization to ensure our workforce is inclusive and reflects the communities in which we live and the audiences we serve. Our ongoing commitment to reflecting the diversity of the world in which we operate, on and off-screen, is essential to the success of our business and our creativity. By bringing Babita on board we are further committed to ensuring accountability for our progress,” said Gray in a release.

“Moving to Fremantle is an exciting opportunity to build an inclusive, creative culture within a large, successful, global content creator,” Bahal added. “I’m delighted to be working with Nicky Gray and the Fremantle leadership team to attract and progress the best people from the widest range of backgrounds, and who reflect a global audience.”

Red Arrow Studios acquires Controlling Britney Spears

Red Arrow Studios International has picked up the international distribution rights to the feature documentary Controlling Britney Spears, the follow-up to the successful TV documentary Framing Britney Spears.

The documentary includes new allegations from insiders with knowledge of the pop star’s life inside her controversial conservatorship, and was produced in partnership with The New York Times and Left/Right, a Red Arrow Studios company. It’s directed by Samantha Stark, with Liz Day as supervising producer and reporter.

“We are delighted to be distributing this fascinating follow-up to one of the most talked about television events of the year, which sold widely across every continent. We are already seeing huge interest in Controlling Britney Spears from our partners globally and are looking forward to bringing these new revelations to viewers around the world very soon,” Tim Gerhartz, president and managing director at Red Arrow Studios International, said in a release.

Controlling Britney Spears premiered on FX and Hulu in the U.S. on September 24.

BBC Studios lands pre-sales for Universe and The Mating Game

BBC Studios has secured international pre-sales for the five-part science series Universe and the natural history series The Mating Game.

Universe comes from the makers of The Planets and uses CGI visuals to take viewers on an interstellar trip to places we didn’t know existed a decade ago. The series, known as NOVA: Universe Revealed in the U.S., is produced by BBC Studios Science Unit with NOVA and GBH Boston for BBC and PBS, co-produced with Xigua Video and Bytedance, and is an Open University partnership. The series has pre-sold to Denmark (DR), France (France Télévisions), Germany (ZDFinfo), Canada (Radio-Canada), Norway (NRK) and Russia (Yandex). The series will also premiere on BBC Earth channels across Asia, Canada, CEE, Middle East, Nordics, Poland, Africa and Turkey.

The Mating Game (5 x 50 minutes) is narrated by Sir David Attenborough and explores the varied and often bizarre strategies that animals in five different habitats across six continents use to find a mate. The series was produced by Silverback Films for BBC and Discovery, co-produced with Bilibili, France Télévisions and NHK. The Mating Game has pre-sold to Denmark (DR), Canada (Radio-Canada), Estonia (ETV), Spain (Movistar+), New Zealand (TVNZ), Lithuania (LRT) and Norway (NRK). It will also premiere on BBC Earth channels across Asia, Canada, CEE, Middle East, Nordics, Poland, Africa and Turkey.

The series pre-sales announcements come as BBC Studios opens BBC Studios Connect, a virtual destination highlighting content on offer to international buyers during MIPCOM. Other premium titles on the BBC Studios factual slate include the landmark natural history series The Green Planet and Scandalous: The Maxwell Saga (working title).

“What unites Universe and The Mating Game is the scale of their ambition, with the characters and storylines to rival any major drama series. These are shows that will further audiences’ appreciation of the world around them and beyond,” said Louise McNab, director of content sales for BBC Studios Global Distribution in a release.

Peacock wins U.S. rights to Escape to the Chateau

Indie distributor All3Media has signed a deal with NBCUniversal-owned streamer Peacock for the U.S. rights to its popular factual entertainment brand Escape to the Chateau.

The agreement will see the SVOD service become the exclusive U.S. home for the long-running series along with the new brand extension, Escape to the Chateau: Make Do & Mend.

Peacock will premiere the seventh series of Escape to the Chateau on October 1, marking the beginning of the exclusivity deal in the U.S. market for the brand.

Produced by Two Rivers Media and Chateau Television for the UK’s Channel 4, the series follows the Dick and Angel Strawbridge on their family adventure as they attempt to renovate a derelict 19th century French chateau, complete with 45 rooms, seven outbuildings and a moat as they attempt to transform it into their family home and business. The spinoff Escape to the Chateau: Make Do & Mend debuted in 2020 and was filmed during lockdown. It recently returned for a new second series and sees the couple helping families with their own DIY dilemmas as Dick and Angel share their expertise and advice.

“This new partnership with Peacock creates a fabulous exclusive home in the U.S. for this hugely popular brand. Having previously shared rights in the territory, Peacock will now be the destination for U.S. fans to experience all of Dick and Angel’s adventures,” said Sally Habbershaw, EVP Americas at All3Media International, in a release. “Both titles are full of such warmth, joy and inspiration, whether we’re witnessing all the challenges the couple face as they renovate Chateau de la Motte Husson or getting a unique — and relatable — snapshot of the DIY dilemmas we’re tackling in our own homes.”

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.