FremantleMedia UK, formerly independent production company talkbackTHAMES, is the UK production arm of FremantleMedia, the global production and content business of the RTL Group, Europe’s largest television and radio company.
The company was formed in January 2012 when the company restructured into a portfolio of labels managed by creative leaders. It comprises of five labels - Boundless, Retort, Talkback, Thames and digital unit FremantleMedia UK Interactive. The group also has successful partnerships with drama companies Projector Pictures and Hillbilly TV.
Across the group the labels provide award winning programming for all major terrestrial, digital channels and digital outlets. With an unparalleled range of programming including: The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, Celebrity Juice, Take Me Out, Over The Rainbow, The Apprentice, You’re Fired, Can’t Take It With You, Four Rooms, Grand Designs, Great British Railway Journeys, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, The IT Crowd, QI, The Rob Brydon Show,The Sinking of the Laconia, Kidnap and Ransom and Holy Flying Circus - the Group has aired over 350 hours of programming on terrestrial TV in the past 12 months alone.
Talkback was founded in 1981 by Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones. It quickly developed a reputation for award winning comedy and entertainment programming, producing hit shows such as Emmy Award winning Smack the Pony, Da Ali G Show, I'm Alan Partridge, The Day Today, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, They Think It's All Over, The 11 O'Clock Show and Big Train, and was run for many years by CEO Peter Fincham.
Branching out from comedy successes, Talkback’s factual programming went from strength to strength in the late 1990’s, producing a string of highly successful series including House Doctor, Jamie’s Kitchen, Grand Designs, Would Like To Meet, Property Ladder and How Clean Is Your House?
Along with several other critically acclaimed drama titles, Talkback produced Stephen Poliakoff’s Emmy Award winning drama The Lost Prince in 2003 and produced many radio programmes for Radio One, Two and Four. In 2000, Talkback was bought by Pearson Television.
THAMES first went on air as a broadcaster in 1968 and served as the largest company in the ITV Network. Between then and the end of its broadcaster licence in 1991, THAMES produced programmes in every conceivable genre: news, documentaries, drama, light entertainment, comedy, social concern, education, religion and children’s programmes.
Some of the programmes they made are to this day legends of British television, including Morecambe and Wise, Man About the House, The Sweeney, Minder, Danger Mouse, Count Duckula and Rainbow. Many of these are still repeated on satellite and even terrestrial television.
Others such as Benny Hill, The World at War, Hollywood: The Silent Years and Edward and Mrs Simpson are still very much in demand overseas.
In 1991 following the expiration of THAMES’ broadcast licence, the company consolidated and became the UK’s largest independent producer, continuing to provide ITV with hit shows including The Bill. In 1993 THAMES was acquired by Pearson Television and under Chief Executive Greg Dyke began acquiring other production and distribution companies to create a television powerhouse.
In April 2000, Pearson Television merged with CLT-UFA to form RTL Group. The company was renamed FremantleMedia, but THAMES retained its name for UK business.
talkbackTHAMES was formed in 2003, when Talkback and THAMES merged under the FremantleMedia umbrella to form a single company.
In January 2012, the company was restructured into a portfolio of labels managed by creative leaders including Richard Holloway, Dan Baldwin and Jon Rolph.
The labels are supported by a new division, FremantleMedia UK, led by CEO, Sara Geater. The structure has been designed to give the company’s market leading talent greater creative freedom and autonomy in order to deliver the best programmes for customers.
Each label has a creative leader as the Managing Director, a Head of Development and a Head of Production. The labels consist of:
Thames -celebrating the strong heritage of entertainment, Thames will be led by Richard Holloway, one of the UK’s most successful and experienced entertainment producers, with two divisions headed up by two of the industry’s leading talent in this genre: Suzy Lamb as Head of Thames Productions and Andrew Llinares as Head of Thames/Syco Co-Productions.
Partnerships with drama companies Projector Pictures and Hillbilly TV sit alongside the labels.