Netflix to expand UK original shows

By Trixie Pacis | 24 Jan 2019 at 8:37am

Netflix plans to double down on UK TV originals this year and it’s about time—but is it true that they are moving in?

Expansion across the pond seems only natural in light of Netflix’s growing popularity. UK Viewership is growing, especially amongst younger audiences. According to The Drum, Netflix pulls in the second-largest audience after BBC One. Things are also good on the business front as generous government tax breaks and good infrastructure make the UK an advantageous location for film production.

Is Netflix ramping up production in the UK?

Earlier this month, Netflix’s UK commissioner Alex Sapot announced her desire to order more original series from the UK. “We recognise the vast pool of talent here so we would love to be in business with those storytellers,” Sapot said at a pre-screening of Netflix original Sex Education, Screen Daily reported. This news follows a round of high profile Netflix hires including Sky’s Anne Mensah and former Channel 4 executive Lucy Leveugle.

Netflix production in the UK has indeed picked up. According to The Drum, Netflix produced some forty shows in the UK in 2018 including Black Mirror, The End of the F***ing World and and Safe.

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The next step, it seems, is developing the pool of experienced staff across the UK. Netflix has begun various initiatives in order to reach this goal. They conducted a local talent search in Penarth, South Wales, where Sex Education filmed. Talent received training and work experience in various production roles, leaving them equipped to fill full-time roles when the series returns to Penarth to film series two.

Elaborating on their strategy, Sapot also said, “Part of the ethos at Netflix is finding new talent and the only way to do that is to give people experience.”

Is Netflix going to cross the pond?

To grow proper roots in UK soil, Netflix will also need a home base. Last year, Netflix set up its very first European hub in Madrid and simultaneously supported the production of twenty films. They have an office in Paris staffed with production, acquisition, and marketing execs and most recently, Netflix opened a commissioning base in London. It appears that the next big move in Netflix’s European expansion will take the shape of a UK production studio.

Netflix began their hunt for a permanent UK production space in September of last year. It was reportedly challenging to find suitable options. Financial Times reported that they were already in “advanced talks” with Pinewood Studios by November. As you may know, Pinewood has been the filming location for the Harry Potter and Star Wars franchises. It has been a breeding ground for directors ranging from JJ Abrams to Stanley Kubrick. It is also where Sandra Bullock defied Gravity and a gold-painted Shirley Eaton shared a bed with Sean Connery (Bond may be the most famous franchise to have called the studio home). Pinewood has been a fixture of Buckinghamshire since 1936.

With plans to spend $8 billion on new UK-made content, Netflix seems serious about settling in and we couldn’t be more excited!


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