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Free@Last opens Format Factory

Ed Waller - C21 Media

MIPTV: Free@Last TV, one of the UK indies behind Sky drama Agatha Raisin, is here in Cannes launching an unscripted formats company called Format Factory.

Format Factory was described as “a holding pen for formats the industry doesn’t yet know it wants,” by Free@Last MD and creative director BarryRyan.

He said: “We’ve got 16 years of intellectual property in reality, factual entertainment and gameshows to draw on, as well as formats from people from across the industry with fresh ideas.”

Formats on the executive production company’s slate will be 70% from Free@Last and 30% from third parties it represents, Ryan added.

Among the talent represented by Format Factory is David Hedges, the UK-based producer who adapted Queer Eye for the Straight Guy for Living TV in 2003 through his company Via London.

Also on the slate are formats from Moli Leap Productions, the UK outfit that produced reality series The Retreat for BBC2 last year. “We’re going to launch The Retreat internationally with a 360-degree content strategy,” Ryan said.

Shows mentioned on Format Factory’s marketing material here in Cannes include Thin Ice, House of Card, The Hero in Me, Make Me a Legend and Nashvilified.

Meanwhile, Free@Last is currently developing a drama based on the life of British forensics pioneer Sir Bernard Spilsbury, with finance coming from the Welcome Trust and with writer/actor Nichola McAuliffe (Victoria) attached.

“Without Bernard Spilsbury, there would be no CSI. He invented modern crime scene forensics but he’s not widely known,” said Ryan.

Free@Last is also planning to revive 1990s BBC hit Hamish Macbeth, depicting a younger version of the character made famous by Robert Carlyle. The firm has rights to other works from Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin author Marion Chesney (aka MC Beaton), such as The Poor Relations.

The indie is also developing Reginald Hill novel The Death of a Dormouse for TV, with Moira Williams (Roughnecks) attached, and has picked up the rights to remake Australian drama series House Husbands from Nine Network and Playmaker Media.

Free@Last, which Ryan runs with exec producer David Walton, produces the Agatha Raisin series for Sky1 alongside Mammoth Screen. It debuted in 2014 and a second season is in the works.

Read more: https://www.c21media.net/format-firm-launches-in-cannes

Barry Ryan