North One Moves Into Drama
North One, producer of upcoming Keanu Reeves-helmed Disney+ F1 show Brawn, is moving into drama and has partnered with Line of Duty star Vicky McClure’s BYO Films.
The company has restructured, Deadline can reveal, with founder/CEO Neil Duncanson becoming Chairman, Managing Director Steve Gowans taking his place as CEO and Daniel Coomber promoted to Chief Operating Officer. Staff were informed yesterday.
The changes will take effect from next year and will see UK indie vet Duncanson oversee the drama push, while remaining at the helm of the day-to-day business and looking after sport, while Gowans manages factual and factual entertainment.
“We have always been adept at reinventing ourselves and making sure we stay ahead of the curve,” Duncanson told Deadline. “We’ve moved across genres through the years to keep momentum going and realize the way the streamers have changed the game globally means drama is clearly a dominant force.”
Gowans said the restructure “isn’t radical but is about going bigger and broader.”
“Sports and factual-entertainment remain front and center and now we can build incrementally in different genres and on different platforms,” he added.
Having become the first indie bought by All3Media 20 years ago, North One has developed a solid reputation over the decades for sports production and factual hits such as Fifth Gear, Travel Man and The Gadget Show.
To aid with the drama push, North One has partnered with the newest All3 investee, McClure and Jonny Owens’ BYO Films, having already made a documentary together for ITV called Vicky McClure: My Grandad’s War.
The pair are developing a Peaky Blinders-esque drama series and a music-based scripted show, according to Duncanson, both of which are in the early stages of development. Meanwhile, North One is working with U.S. producer Shona Films on a drama about sport and modern history. None are attached to networks as of yet.
Duncanson said the London and Birmingham-headquartered outfit had been considering the drama move for some time and that he has been discussing with All3Media CEO Jane Turton for several years.
He is aware of the challenges to come, adding: “We don’t expect to just drop a treatment on the table and get a deal. Like all of our history up till now, this is going to be about delivery.”
The company has been winning business from streamers of late, with the Keanu Reeves-fronted Brawn: The One Pound Formula 1 Team unveiled at the Edinburgh TV Festival.
The Matrix star is narrating the show and conducting interviews about the 2009 team that cost just £1 ($1.2) to assemble and ended up pulling off something of a sporting miracle.
“This isn’t something you’d immediately connect with Keanu but it fell into place bizarrely easy and has been a joy from start to finish,” added Duncanson.
North One is also piloting a features format, in partnership with All3Media America, for a U.S. cable network, along with gameshow formats in the UK and Japan.