Left Bank has hired two new producers to expand its drama and comedy output.

Michael Casey has been appointed Executive Producer for Drama, working with CEO Andy Harries to oversee content for the domestic and international markets.

Casey has an extensive freelance history with Left Bank, working on the BBC/Masterpiece/Mediaset/ZDF commission Zen and Father & Son for ITV and RTE in Ireland.

His permanent appointment will begin once the second series of Left Bank’s production Strike Back, for HBO Cinemax and Sky, has been wrapped up.

Simon Lupton joins Left Bank’s comedy team as a Development Producer, after completing a two-part documentary series on the rock band Queen for BBC 2, to be aired next month. He has previously worked as an executive editor within the BBC Comedy team.

Casey and Lupton join Left Bank as Wallander and DCI Banks Executive Producer Francis Hopkinson leaves to join ITV Studios.

Hopkinson will stay with the company until production has finished on the first full series of DCI Banks‘) for ITV1, following the success of a two-part pilot.

May 13th, 2011

On Monday 23rd May 2011, Andy Harries was made a Fellow of the Royal Television Society for outstanding contribution to the broadcasting industry. Below is the citation from the RTS about his appointment…

“Mention the name of our next Fellow to anyone in film or television and you get a range of reactions from unstinting adulation (from the people who work for him) to unqualified respect (from the talent who flock to him) to downright exasperation (from the bosses who try to control him). But the one thing every reaction has in common is the broad grin that saying his name brings to everyone’s face. Some of the finest drama and funniest comedy, and often a clever combination of both, have passed through his hands or come under his aegis on their way to both massive popular and critical acclaim. From huge hits such as Cold Feet to gritty agenda setting series such as The Street, to hard-hitting one-off films like See No Evil to the finest of British detective drama such as Prime Suspect to award winning, even Oscar winning feature films like The Queen. What our new fellow does, and he does it consummately, is pick a clever, often mishievous, idea, excite the best writer, lure in a top director and tempt an amazing actor to commit to the project. Then he sits in the middle of this wealth of talent, charming, cajoling, inspiring and ultimately delivering something of broad appeal yet always lasting quality.

At ITV under Melvyn Bragg he forged out South Bank Shows on the likes of Truman Capote and Lenry Henry. His passion for film took him into the Incredibly Strange Film Show with Jonathan Ross while his irrepressible sense of humour took him both into broken comedy such as the Mrs Merton Show then into sitcom with the likes of Surgical Spitit and the genre defining The Royle Family. He then headed into mainstream drama with a plethora of successful prime time ITV series such as the Forsyte Saga, Henry VIII, Donovan, Island at War, Vincent, Eleventh Hour and Mary Bryant. These series were interspersed with running a department which twice a year would produce brave, often challenging one off dramas that would sweep the awards board, from Dirty Filthy Love to Pierepoint to Wall of Silence to The Deal. Our Fellow enjoyed, even relished, fighting the good fight for these controversial films as much as he did delivering a massive comedy drama hit.

Latterly our Fellow left ITV and set up his own trailblazing drama Indie and the success has continued unabated. Does he spot a trend and jump on it or does he create a trend – hard to tell but who would have predicted the British appetite for morose Swedish detectives, as he has just done with 5 times BAFTA award winning Wallander, delivering yet another talked about series and paving the way for others.

There will be some critics of tonight’s New Fellow, including himself, who claim that in drama the talent is all and his success is simply down to being ‘good with talent’. Those who know him well, and know the passion and wit and intelligence and editorial acruity he puts into everything he does and the resultant brilliance of everything he touches, know that our new Fellow IS the Talent. For a significant contribution to television, this RTS Fellowship is awarded to Andy Harries.”

Sky 1 HD has commissioned Left Bank to make a second series of its hit drama MAD DOGS with Max Beesley, Philip Glenister, John Simm and Marc Warren all confirmed to reprise their roles. The second series, filming this summer in Majorca, will comprise of 4 × 60” episodes for transmission in early 2012 with all cast optioned for a potential third series too.

Series One proved a big success with viewers earlier this year, gaining a loyal weekly audience to become the eleventh most watched programme in Sky 1’s history. And the programme has also received a BAFTA nomination for Drama Serial, adding to Sky’s record number of BAFTA nominations this year in its entire 20 year history.

Stuart Murphy, Director of Programmes, Sky 1 HD, Sky 1, 2, & Pick TV and Director of Commissioning, Sky Entertainment commented: “Customers loved this show so it’s great to commit to more. At Sky we work hard to bring our viewrs high quality original entertainment made by the very best prodution companies with fantastic talent nso I’m delighted we can confirm Mad Dogs’ return just a few weeks after the first series has finished its run. This also marks a growing investment in British scripted content, to sit alongside our great American shows.”

Elaine Pyke, Director Sky Atlantic HD, added: “From the original commission we knew we had something very special on our hands and viewers responded to the show fantastically. I’m delighted that the cast have agreed to reunite and become Mad Dogs again.”

Andy Harries and Suzanne Mackie return to executive produce for Left Bank Pictures with James Hawes (Enid, Suspicions of Mr Whicher) directing sripts again written by Cris Cole.

Andy Harries commented: “Mad Dogs had such an impact that it was as obvious as a dead goat that we had to do more and all of our amazing cast felt the same.”

Suzanne Mackie said: “Before we had finished the first series of Mad Dogs we felt that there was so much more to do with these characters. I have been working with Cris Cole on the scripts ever since we finished shooting series one and the ideas for series two and three are every bit as explosive and inventive as they were at the beginning.”

Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns, otherwise known as charismatic comedy duo Cardinal Burns, are to bring their acclaimed sketches to E4 following a full series commission from Channel 4’s Comedy Editor, Fiona McDermott.

The 6 × 30minute series will be produced by Left Bank Pictures and will be infused with imaginative, nuanced characters and cartoonish writing fro which Cardinal Burns have built an impressive reputaion on the live comedy circuit.

Fiona McDermott at Channel 4 who commissioned the series said: “Quite simply, Cardinal Burns are one of the funniest sketch duos around. Delightfully clever, imaginative and silly, theirs is a brand of comedy that is perfect for E4 and we can’t wait to start working with them.”

Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns said: “We are thrilled to be working with Left Bank Pictures and E4 on our series. We cannot wait to get writing in our swanky new office right in the heart of Park Royal industrial estate.”

Jenna Jones, Producer added: “As soon as we saw Seb and Dustin at the Edinburgh Fringe we realised they both had star quality and could bring something fresh and exciting to sketch comedy. Bursting with bold, inventive characters which they match with a delightfully subtlety, Cardinal Burns do instinctive, stylish, arms wide open comedy.”

Cardinal Burns have performed to sell-out audiences across the country, from their critically acclaimed debut at the 2009 Edinburgh Fringe to a successful run at London’s Soho Theatre in 2010. Their sketch show for E4 will be their first solo TV project.

Produced by Left Bank Pictures for E4 the six half hour episodes are written and performed by Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demr-Burns. Ben Taylor directs alongside Producer Jenna Jones and Left Bank Pictures Chief Executive Andy Harries. The series was commissioned by Fiona McDermott for E4.

The series will air in late 2011.

Press Contact:
Channel 4 – Jenny Cummins / jcummins@channel4.co.uk 0207 306 8181
Left Bank Pictures – Rich Cain / rich@ianjohnsonpublicity.co.uk 0207 836 3030

Mad Dogs has been shortlisted for Best Scripted Programme in this year’s Broadcast Digital Awards.

This is the second award nomination for Mad Dogs, which last week was shortlisted by BAFTA for *Best Drama Serial*.

The BAFTA Awards will take place in London on 22 May, with the Broadcast Digital Awards following in June.

Missed Mad Dogs? Catch up here.

May 4th 2011

Mad Dogs has been nominated for a BAFTA Award in the catagory of Best Drama Serial. The four parter for Sky 1, written by Cris Cole and stars Max Beasley, Phil Glenister, John Simm and Marc Warren, with guest stars Ben Chaplin and Maria Botto was a smash-hit for Sky this year, ranking the 11th highest rated programme ever for the channel.

Directed by Adrian Shergold, Mad Dogs is up against Any Human Heart (Channel 4 / Carnival Films), The Sinking of the Laconia (BBC 2 / BBC Productions) and The Promise (Channel 4 / Daybreak Pictures).

The results will be announced at the awards ceremony in London on 22 May.

The consolidated audience figures for episode one of Left Bank’s latest drama Mad Dogs has come in at 1.61 million, making it the 17th highest rated programme ever on Sky1.

The psychological four-parter starring Max Beasley, Philip Glenister, John Simm, Marc Warren and Ben Chaplin also received rave reviews accross the board:

The Daily Mail: “It’s Sky’s best-filmed drama yet, with an edgy script, sun-drenched locations and great casting.”

The Radio Times: “[Mad Dogs] turns out to be both winning and convincing… Mad Dogs is the start of a brave new testoserone-led movement”

The Independent: “Sky might have bought the entire HBO catalogue, but this new homegrown psychological thriller is one of their best yet.”

The Daily Express: “It’s a cast list to die for. Any of the four leading actors could carry a drama on its own. But Left Bank has pulled off an enormous coup by recruiting all four of them for the same serial. Mad Dogs is a gripping four-parter”.

The Daily Telegraph: “With the sun-baked menace of a small-screen Sexy Beast, the psychological four-part drama Mad Dogs looks as though it means business right from the start…

The Daily Mirror: “…the first installment of the four part series presses all the right buttons. It has naturalistic performances, an effortless blend of comedy and sinister undertones plus rather more shots of Marc Warren’s bum cheeks than might be considered absolutely necessary. All good, in other words.”

Mad Dogs continues this thursday 24th February at 9pm on Sky 1 HD.

Left Bank Pictures’ extended second series of SAS drama Strike Back forges the first ever co-production between BSkyB and American cable network HBO/Cinemax. Shooting 10 × 60′ episodes in South Africa and Hungary between Feb – July 2011, the action packed adventure series sees a fresh set of characters / storylines in a globe-spanning setting with international appeal.

Andy Harries: “Strike Back was conceived as a high octane action adventure with the scale and impact of a US series, and to have HBO/Cinemax on board will turn this ambition into reality… Sky are leading the market with confidence. This is the kind of commission that gives Left Bank Pictures the opportunity to push boundaries and take the series into the international marketplace. Elaine Pyke (Sky1 head of drama) and Stuart Murphy recognise that British drama is a huge asset and their belief and committment in UK production companies is to be applauded.”

Find out more on Strike Back II

Left Bank Pictures picked up the prize as Best Independent Production Company at the Broadcast Awards last night, 2nd February 2011, held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London.

Recent television productions include Zen, the critically acclaimed three-part drama for BBC 1, Strike back for Sky1 HD which is going into production on a 2nd series shortly, and the forthcoming Mad Dogs also for Sky1 HD. The company are also set to produce a 3rd series of the seven times BAFTA award-winning Wallander.

Feature Films include the forthcoming Rafta Rafta, adapted from the Olivier Award-winning National Theatre production by Ayub Khan Din, and the The Lady, which follows the remarkable journey of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Andy Harries, Chief Executive of Left Bank, said: “We are thrilled to have won Best Independent Production Company. Along with the fantastic response we received for Zen last month, we couldn’t have asked for a better start to the year.”

Marigo Kehoe, Managing Director of Left Bank, said: “It is a huge honour to be named as Best Independent Production Company. This recognition from the Broadcast Awards is a great credit to the team and everyone who has worked with us over the past few years.”

Jacqueline Abrahams has won the RTS Craft Award for Production Design on Wallander II: The Fifth Woman… this is the second craft award Jacqueline has picked up for her work on Wallander.

“The design in the winning entry was wholly realistic down to the smallest of details, without distracting from the narrative of the piece…. A richly satisfying piece of work…”

For full details of other winners and nominees at this year’s RTS Craft Awards click here.

Posted on: 30/11/10