Media release: Independent Scottish production companies receive boost for new TV content

Independent Scottish production companie Maramedia receive boost for new TV content.

SIX independent Scottish production companies have received a total of £900,500 to create new TV content.

Happy Tramp NorthMaramedia, MatchlightOnce Were FarmersPirate Productions and Very Nice are the first recipients of Screen Scotland’s £3million Broadcast Content Fund.

The awards represent a range of new projects, enabling companies to elevate their creative and commercial ambition, through support of single project and slate development and production.

Open to all genres of broadcast content including factual and scripted programming, the Broadcast Content Fund is central to Screen Scotland’s plan to increase the number and diversity of film and television productions from Scotland and build sustainability in the sector.

Fiona HyslopCabinet Secretary for CultureTourism and External Affairs, said: “Having met so many skilled individuals operating in Scotland, I know – from first-hand experience – that we have the talent and the opportunity to grow our TV sector.

“This funding of up to £500,000 per project will enrich our vibrant broadcast production sector by providing the targeted financial backing it needs to develop.

“It will also help attract, retain and develop talent and businesses in Scotland and I look forward to seeing the productions made possible by this enhanced funding.”

Isabel Davis, executive director at Screen Scotland, said: “Creating the right conditions for Scotland’s independent film and television producers and companies to grow is essential, if we are to help them achieve the recognition they deserve and drive their economic and creative success.

“We’ve been inspired by the quality and range of work coming to us for support, and encouraged that the fund is making a real difference: be it creating the opportunity for producers to acquire exciting intellectual property, increase the resources to develop content, or enable important Scottish stories of scale to get into production.”

Inverness-based Happy Tramp North’s £500,000 funding is supporting the production of the new, Edinburgh-set, four-part BBC crime drama series, Guilt. Written by Neil Forsyth (Eric, Ernie and MeBob Servant), directed by Robbie McKillop (Cleaning UpClique) and starring Mark Bonnar (CatastropheLine of Duty and Unforgotten) and Jamie Sives (Chernobyl, Frontier and Game of Thrones), the series will premiere on the new BBC Scotland channel – its first original drama commission – and follow on BBC Two later this year. Guilt will be co-produced with Expectation Entertainment Ltd and internationally distributed by BBC Studios.

Neil Webster, managing director at Happy Tramp North, said: “We’re over the moon to be one of the first recipients of Screen Scotland’s Broadcast Fund. Guilt is an ambitious, contemporary drama and the Broadcast Fund has been crucial in allowing us to bring the vision of the show to life. Screen Scotland’s understanding and help throughout the process has been invaluable and we hope this is the start of a long and fruitful relationship.”

Wildlife TV specialists, Maramedia (Born to Be Wild, Hebrides–Islands on the Edge, Highlands-Scotland’s Wild Heart), have received £118,500 to produce Stormborn, a new, three-part series exploring wildlife in the North Atlantic, to be broadcast on BBC Scotland. Stormborn will also be broadcast and distributed by Canadian-based Blue Ant Media. This award will enable Maramedia to continue their work to establish Scotland as a hub for natural history TV production and develop internationally renowned natural history talent.

Nigel Pope, creative director at Maramedia, said: “Stormborn brings together Blue Ant Media (a major player in the SVOD world through its Love Nature platforms) with BBC Scotland, Screen Scotland and Arte France in a really unique way. Its creative both in an editorial sense and as a new sort of financing model. The Broadcast Content Fund closed the final gap in the finance plan, so it was really important to us and I’m sure we’ll be working with the Screen Scotland team a lot in the future.”

Edinburgh-based Pirate Productions have received £32,000  to develop a TV adaptation of Sally Andrew’s novel, Recipes for Love and Murder.

Set in South Africa with flashbacks to Scotland where the main character, Tannie Maria, is originally from, the project is a co-production with South African production company, Both Worlds.

Jenny Williams, producer and company manager at Pirate Productions, said: “We are delighted to be awarded funding for Recipes for Love and Murder– a television drama series based on the fantastic novels by Sally Andrew. This funding will allow us to develop further scripts and to prepare the project for market alongside our South African co-producer Thierry Cassuto of Both Worlds.”

Stirling-based production company and animation studio, Once Were Farmers, have received £50,000 towards developing the TV adaptation of The Adventures of Honey and Leon, the debut children’s book series by Alan Cumming and illustrated by Alan’s husband, Grant Shaffer. Set in New York City, the books follow the lives of Honey and Leon, Alan Cumming and Grant Shaffer’s late dogs.

Will Adams, CEOOnce Were Farmers, said: “Most of our development is self-funded, so having the funds to bring in additional expert talent from outside our company is a huge boost. We have very high hopes for The Adventures of Honey and Leon and expect it to be a significant turning point in our company’s history.  Whilst it’s early days there is already a great buzz around the project and it’s really exciting to work with such high-profile talent.”

Slate funding of £100,000 for the development of a range of programme ideas to bring to market has been awarded to Glasgow’s Matchlight, and to entertainment specialists, Very Nice.

Matchlight will develop ideas across documentary, specialist factual and popular factual genres, targeting new international markets for their work.

Very Nice will develop further work across entertainment and factual entertainment.

David Smith, managing director at Matchlight, said: “TV is changing more rapidly than at any point I can remember. Netflix, YouTube and Amazon are changing the game, taking great ideas from everywhere.

“At the same time the BBC, Channel 5 and C4 are hunting outside of London for new talent and ideas – though the price these UK broadcasters can pay for content is, at best, standing still. So, we have to be more international, more ambitious and much more connected than ever before. The Scottish Government saw this change coming and with Screen Scotland’s support producers in Scotland now have a real opportunity to compete across the UK and beyond.”

Andrew Robertson, managing director at Very Nice, said: “Receiving this funding from the Screen Scotland fund is fantastic for our business. The fund will allow us to grow and build the company here in Scotland, bring in and train new staff. As an ambitious new company, we have our sights set on the global market and we can now use this financial backing as a platform to sell to the world from our home here in Glasgow.”

Notes for editors:

The Broadcast Content Fund is a rolling £3million fund, accepting applications for all genres of broadcast content including factual and scripted programming.

Individual awards between £10,000 and £100,000 are available for Development and Slate projects.

Awards of up to £500,000 are available for Production funding.

Funding guidance and application forms are available here

Happy Tramp North

Happy Tramp North (HTN) is a new Scottish independent production company specialising in scripted comedy and drama. Established in 2017, HTN has quickly established itself as a respected producer of both comedy and drama. Along with Guilt for BBC Scotland / BBC2, HTN is currently in pre-production for Semi-Detached, a sitcom starring Lee Mack, also for BBC2. The company is also developing projects through the BBC Scotland Writers Room Initiative, as well as projects with all major broadcasters.

As Happy Tramp, the company produced a wide range of comedy and drama shows, including the International EMMY nominated Urban Myth series for Sky Arts, the BAFTA nominated Elephant for BBC3, Morgana Robinson’s The Agency for BBC2 and the sitcom SunTrap for BBC1.


Glasgow-based wildlife filmmaking specialists, Maramedia’s ten-part series, Born to be Wild is currently screening on BBC Scotland’s new channel. They’ve recently completed Hotel Armadillo, a single documentary following the work of giant armadillo scientist Arnaud Desbiez for the BBC’s Natural World strand and PBS; and are currently working on an ambitious landmark project in 4K, Wild Way of the Vikings. Their critically-acclaimed, award winning BBC Scotland series, Hebrides – Islands on the Edge (narrated by Ewan McGregor) and its sequel, Highlands – Scotland’s Wild Heart have been sold in over 100 countries across the globe.


Since it was founded in 2009 by Ross Wilson, David Smith and Jacqui Hayden, Matchlight has produced over 120 hours of high-end factual programming – primarily for the UK network channels – from its Glasgow base. Matchlight has been identified by the BBC as a key Scottish supplier to the network; making singles and series for BBC Two and BBC Four and is the only Scottish independent company to regularly make programmes for BBC One network. Channel 5 has also become a regular source of commissions, with Series 3 of The Highland Midwife due to air in Spring 2019.

Award wins for Matchlight include Afghanistan: The Great Game (BAFTA Scotland 2012, Best Factual Series); Ted Hughes: Stronger than Death (Celtic Media Festival 2016, Best Arts); My Baby, Psychosis and Me (MIND Media Awards 2016, Best Documentary); Scotland and the Klan (Royal Television Society Awards 2017, Best History); My Baby, Psychosis and Me (Royal Television Society, 2017, Best Documentary).

Once Were Farmers

Once Were Farmers is a BAFTA-winning production company and animation studio, creating characters, stories, graphics and visual effects for an international client base. Since 2002 Once Were Farmers have developed and produced animation and live action for film and broadcast, with expertise in mixing media and efficiently delivering high production value.

Pirate Productions

Pirate Productions Ltd is an Edinburgh television and film production company established in 1995 by writer/director, Annie Griffin. Jenny Williams, producer and company manager joined Pirate in 2010. Pirate has several drama and comedy projects in development. Pirate Productions is currently part of the FOCUS screen business development scheme.

Very Nice 

With over 20 years of network TV experience we have worked across many of the biggest and most groundbreaking TV shows in the country. From award- winning shows like I’m a Celebrity get me out of here, Big Brother and Robot Wars, to creating the Bafta-winning ‘play-along game’ for The Million Pound Drop. We have a huge amount of experience in MultiPlatform content as well as traditional broadcast TV, and have ambitious plans for the future to create a huge range of brilliant and original content from our base here in Scotland.

Screen Scotland is the dedicated partnership for screen in Scotland. With £20 million from Scottish Government and the National Lottery, Screen Scotland is driving the cultural, social and economic development of all aspects of the sector in Scotland, through enhanced funding, services and support.  Screen Scotland sits within Creative Scotland and is a partnership with Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Funding Council, working in close collaboration with the sector to ensure its success. For information about our new and enhanced funds for film and TV, and everything you need to know about filming in Scotland, please visit:  @screenscots

Media contact:

Eilidh Walker

Media relations and PR officer – screen

T: 0131 523 0019

M: 07545 402 064

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