Soho Stories

Episodes

EpisodeTitleRepeatedComments
01A Thousand Flowers20090725 (BBC7)
20150525 (BBC7)
20150526 (BBC7)

Paul Jackson traces the rise of TV's independent producers, from minnow to global giant.

Thirty years ago, virtually every home-grown programme on British Television was made by either the BBC or ITV. Today, the biggest and most successful, from Big Brother and Spooks to The Apprentice and X-Factor, are made by independent producers. Television executive, programme maker and broadcaster Paul Jackson goes behind some of these multi-million pound success stories to chart the rise and rise of independent producers - from the isolated minnows of the early 1980's to the global monoliths of today.

It is this transformation over the course of just over quarter of a century that Paul Jackson explores in this three part series, aided and abetted by some of those who made the transition from troublesome outsiders into possibly the most influential, and powerful, players in the industry today responsible for making and supplying as much as 50% of what is broadcast in the UK. People like Simon Cowell (the man behind X-Factor and Britain's Got Talent and star of an American show that reportedly drives 60% of the revenue of the Fox Network), Jimmy Mulville (Co-founder and Managing Director of Hat Trick Productions), Paul Smith (the now millionaire behind Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Slumdog Millionaire), Peter Bazalgette (who brought Big Brother to the UK and helped sell it the world over), and Sir David Frost (one of the earliest independent producers, responsible for such shows from The Two Ronnies to The Nixon Interviews).

Also taking part Sir Paul Fox, Lord Griffiths, Paul Bonner, Lorraine Heggessey, Simon Shaps and Peter Salmon.

With plot twists worthy of Ashes To Ashes, as much tension as Britain's Got Talent and a payday to rival Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, Paul Jackson draws on his own experiences in the television industry to trace the development of a sector that earns the country almost half a billion pounds a year in exports alone.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

02Lifestyle Or Business?20090801 (BBC7)
20150526 (BBC7)
20150527 (BBC7)

How indies could make hit shows during the 1990s and yet still struggle.

In 1993, the Sir Alan Sugar of his day, Sir John Harvey Jones stood up at the Edinburgh Television Festival and declared that the independent production sector was less of a business and more of a lifestyle; more like mice running in a large wheel and less something people should invest in.

In the second programme of his series on the history of independent production, Paul Jackson looks at how the foundations were laid for a viable business model. With the help of activist Michael Darlow and head of Margaret Thatcher's policy unit in No 10, Brian (now Lord) Griffiths, he explains how the indies were able to persuade the government that both the BBC and ITV should be compelled to take a proportion of programmes from independent producers. The 25% quota campaign was later described as the most successful political lobby in British modern history.

And Peter Bazalgette (Ready Steady Cook & Groundforce), Paul Smith (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?), Jimmy Mulville (Have I Got News For You), Jon Thoday (Fantasy Football), David Frank (Wife Swap) and Henry Normal (Marion & Geoff and The Mighty Boosh) are all on hand to describe the artistic and business opportunities that presented themselves (or they were able to carve out) during the 1990's.

With plot twists worthy of Ashes To Ashes, as much tension as Britain's Got Talent and a payday to rival Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, Paul Jackson draws on his own experiences in the television industry to trace the development of a sector that today earns the country almost half a billion pounds a year in exports alone.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

03Mergers And Acquisitions And Megabucks20090808 (BBC7)
20150527 (BBC7)
20150528 (BBC7)

Paul Jackson charts the changing fortunes of the independent production sector since 2000.

A mere seven years ago, there were some in the industry who dismissed the independent production sector as unsustainable. However following government intervention in 2003, it is now the envy of the world and British television has become responsible for some 53% of all format hours on the planet.

However, with the emergence of a worldwide digital market, its future is once more uncertain. In the final programme of the series, Paul Jackson is joined by the likes of Simon Cowell (X-Factor and Britain's Got Talent), Peter Bazalgette (Big Brother and Deal Or No Deal), Lorraine Heggessey (The Apprentice and The Bill), Paul Smith (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and Slumdog Millionaire), Jimmy Mulville (Have I Got News For You and Outnumbered), Steve Morrison (Skins and George Gently), David Frank (Wife Swap and Faking It) and Henry Normal (The Mighty Boosh and Gavin & Stacey) to follow the changing fortunes of their industry during the 2000s and to discuss what is needed to maintain our artistic and business supremacy in the future.

With plot twists worthy of Ashes To Ashes, as much tension as Britain's Got Talent and a payday to rival Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, Paul Jackson draws on his own experiences in the television industry to trace the development of a sector that today earns the country almost half a billion pounds a year in exports alone.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.