What a way to celebrate the age of 21 for Monkey Kingdom, the unscripted indie owned by NBCUniversal International Studios behind longtime reality brands such as The Real Housewives of Cheshire and Made in Chelsea (which also celebrated its 21st series in 2020).
Firmly established as a leading player in constructed reality, indie has focused on development into other genres and the success of ITV2’s variety and sketch series The Emily Atack Show, The Format diverse panel of Don’t Hate the Playaz and hit Karaoke entertainment. Club – which this year launched the spin-off Karaoke Club: Drag Edition – highlights a company that is running at full speed.
The coronavirus did not seem like a problem for a team skillfully led by Samantha Lawrence, David Granger and Will Macdonald, as Monkey Kingdom produced more than 100 hours during the pandemic. Made in Chelsea was moved to a safe bubble for Covid in Surrey, Suffolk and the Cotswolds, while sketches were rewritten for Emily Atack to allow for social distancing, and Celebrity Karaoke Club was shot in just a week for allow testing and isolation.
Commissions also came from Sky 1, for a remake of Broadcast Digital Award-nominated Dating No Filter, and E4, whose Pete & Sam’s Reality News series not only played on screen, but grossed three million. views on Snapchat, as independents found ways to reach young audiences.
Monkey has also been widely praised for presenting the first all-black, all-female line-up on a UK TV show (Don’t Hate the Playaz) and 40% of Made in Chelsea’s senior squad are now black, Asian. or minority. Ethnic origins. Elsewhere, an LA office opened under the direction of Ollie Brack.
Another 21 years ago.
The Yorkshire-based unscripted specialist has had a banner year, despite the pandemic. From the focus on staff development and training to the success of its shows – Bangers and Cash is the best performer yesterday, Really’s Helicopter ER is on a ninth round – the company proves that it is possible to make a large low-cost enterprise, quality high volume return series.
After its £ 23.5million sale to Future in 2019, Barcroft continued to launch its digitally-focused business model based on revolutionary short, authentic documents and longer commissions. With revenues expected to increase 12% to £ 15.2million in 2021, the company has shown that expansion is possible during the pandemic.
Is there another production company so active on both sides of the Atlantic that creates shows of such quality? The breadth of Fulwell 73’s production is nothing short of staggering, including Netflix’s sports documentary Sunderland Till I Die Series Two, Showtime’s The Making of Motown, and More4’s Auschwitz in Color sitting alongside the ending talk show. James Corden’s CBS night and several scripted efforts.
Strawberry blonde TV
Named the industry‘s best place to work for 2020, Steve Wynne’s young independent is getting better and better. Despite the UK lockdown, its factual entertainment pilot More 4 The Great British Dig was the channel’s biggest launch in two years and resulted in a full series commission. The odds were such that a second arrives and a returnable hit develops.
Sunset + Vine
In a year in which no live sports took place for several months, Sunset + Vine has managed to create some of its best work. For example, as Amazon Prime Video’s live production partner for its Premier League matches, the independent group owned by Tinopolis produced 21 matches in December, six of which were on a busy day.