Blue Lights’ producer, Two Cities, sells majority stake to STV Studios

Helion Partners is pleased to announce it has advised Blue Lights’ producer Two Cities on the sale of a majority stake to STV Studios.

Two Cities Television is an award-winning drama producer that created Belfast based, hit-rating Police drama, Blue Lights, for BBC One and BBC iPlayer, and BAFTA award-winning Patrick Melrose, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, for Sky and Showtime. The first season of Blue Lights achieved an average audience of over 6.5 million across all six episodes, with a consolidated peak of 7.6 million views across linear and digital, one of BBC One’s strongest dramas of 2023. The second season will air later this year.

Two Cities is run by two of the best-known executives in British TV – the former Head of Drama for BBC Northern Ireland, Stephen Wright, and the former BBC One and BBC Two Controller, CEO of Channel 4 and Chairman of Universal Television, Michael Jackson.

Before setting up Two Cities, Stephen commissioned the first four series of Line of Duty – BBC Two’s most successful ever drama serial, which subsequently transferred to BBC One. He also commissioned The Fall for the BBC/Netflix which remains the most successful drama produced from the BBC’s Nations and Regions strategy.

Michael developed and produced Patrick Melrose for Sky and Showtime, which was nominated for an Emmy for Best Miniseries and won the BAFTA in the same category. Michael has also commissioned This Life (BBC), Monk (USA) and Battlestar Galactica (NBC).

With offices in London, Belfast and New York, Two Cities prides itself on developing a diverse slate of projects with UK, Irish and international broadcasters, streamers and distributors. Alongside Blue Lights, Two Cities has multiple series in development.

Helion Partners originally advised Two Cities on its initial minority growth capital investment from STV Studios in 2020. As part of that deal the Two Cities’ management is now able to sell some of their shares, as the value of the company grows, to allow STV Studios to take a majority stake.

STV Studios, is one of the UK’s leading producers of scripted and unscripted content and Scotland’s biggest production company. Under the leadership of MD, David Mortimer, the group has an impressive track record of success across drama, entertainment and factual, working with the world’s biggest broadcasters and streamers including Apple TV+, BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5, ITV, Sky and Warner Bros. Discovery.

 “We appointed Tom and Alex at Helion in 2020 to raise funds to further develop our slate to commission, focusing on our Nations’ DNA. They not only found the perfect match for us in STV Studios, which plans to become the UK’s largest Nations and Regions producer, they also carefully constructed a deal that allows us to sell our shares as the business becomes more profitable and valuable. With the success of Blue Lights, we have now reached that point and look forward to continuing our successful partnership with STV Studios.”

Stephen and Michael, co-founders of Two Cities

“It’s great to see Two Cities leading the drama field in Northern Ireland.  With the success of Blue Lights, they have shown the quality of drama that can be created in the Nations and Regions. As STV is seeking to build the UK’s largest Nations and Regions producer, they couldn’t have found a more well-aligned and supportive partner which bodes well for even greater success in the future.”

Tom Manwaring, Helion Partners

Helion Partners is a specialist M&A firm providing partner-led advice to leading companies and investors within the media, entertainment and marketing services sectors.

If you’re considering selling, buying, setting up a new company or coming to the end of your earn out, and want to discuss the options, please email Tom Manwaring at [email protected].