Helion advises leading drama producer The Forge on its sale to Banijay.

The Forge was founded in 2014 by one of the UK’s most celebrated drama producers, George Faber, alongside award-winning execs, Mark Pybus and George Ormond, with Beth Willis joining from Channel 4 in 2018, where she was Head of Drama. As a team, they quickly became one of the UK’s most successful drama production companies, winning a host of UK and international awards, principally for their work with Channel 4 and the BBC. More recently, they have secured returnable series commissions from both Apple TV+ and Disney+ alongside a raft of new linear commissions.

The Forge is renowned for its high quality, ambitious TV drama and has created shows for Channel 4 including double BAFTA winning National Treasure, starring Robbie Coltrane and Julie Walters, International Emmy winning Help starring Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham, and long running school drama Ackley Bridge, which ran for 5 seasons. For the BBC, The Forge has produced David Hare’s Collateral and Roadkill, starring Carey Mulligan and Hugh Laurie respectively and most recently co-produced the critically acclaimed Marriage starring Sean Bean and Nicola Walker. They also created and produced the 8-part original period show Becoming Elizabeth for Starz.

They’ve collaborated with writers Jack Thorne, Anya Reiss, Stefan Golaszewski, Katherine Jakeways, Ayub Khan Din, Ben Wheatley, David Hare, Peter Moffat, Levi David Addai, Janice Okoh and Stephen Butchard amongst many others.

The Forge has two new series for global streaming platforms, Apple TV+ and Disney+. The Buccaneers is an 8-part series inspired by Edith Wharton’s unfinished final novel that will follow the daughters of America’s new rich as they travel into corseted London in the 1870s to snare themselves an aristocrat, with a refreshing disregard for centuries of tradition. The series premieres globally on Apple TV+ on 8 November and stars a number of widely popular young actors including Kristine Frøseth (The Assistant), Alisha Boe (13 Reasons Why), Josie Totah (Saved by the Bell), Aubri Ibrag (Dive Club), Imogen Waterhouse (The Outpost) as the Buccaneers, alongside Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) and Mia Threapleton (Shadows).

Shardlake for Disney+ is based on the bestselling series of historical mystery novels by C. J. Sansom. The 4-part series is a high stakes detective drama set in Tudor England in which lawyer, Matthew Shardlake, is forced by Thomas Cromwell to undertake morally compromised and life or death missions for Henry VIII. Starring Arthur Hughes (The Innocents and the title role in the RSC’s Richard III) as Matthew Shardlake and Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings) as Thomas Cromwell, Shardlake is due to be released on the Disney+ platform next year.

The Forge has three further upcoming shows. Writer/director Ben Wheatley’s original comedy horror series, Generation Z is currently shooting for Channel 4; factual drama Grenfell, written and directed by Peter Kosminsky, is in the pipeline for BBC One and a new youth-skewing drama series for BBC Three will film next year.

Prior to forming The Forge, George Faber founded Company Pictures, alongside Charlie Pattinson. Here, he produced iconic series including ShamelessSkins and Wild at Heart. Mark Pybus worked alongside George at Company Pictures as Head of Business Affairs, whilst also producing BAFTA and Golden Globe award winning series Wolf Hall for the BBC. Before joining The Forge, George Ormond was a producer and executive producer at the BBC where he produced Great Expectations and Emma, as well as developing the 2016 adaptation of War and Peace. As Head of Drama for Channel 4, Beth Willis commissioned BAFTA nominated The End of the F***ing World and BAFTA winning Humans. Prior to Channel 4, she worked at the BBC where she co-executive produced the re-launch of Doctor Who with Matt Smith.

“Tom and his team were brilliant at thinking alongside us throughout the sale process. Always responsive, imaginative, flexible and diligent, they charted a path through the choppy waters with professionalism and flair. I couldn’t recommend the Helion team more highly.”

George Faber, Co-founder, The Forge

I’ve known The Forge team, and watched their considerable success for many years and so it’s extremely rewarding to have worked with them on this key transaction as they partner with Banijay to achieve greater accolades.  Whilst The Forge has been very successful winning commissions from the UK’s linear channels and increasingly from streamer platforms, Banijay’s international reach and significant financing capability opens up new opportunities for winning and financing new shows. I’m looking forward to watching them achieve greater success in the future.”

Tom Manwaring, Partner, Helion Partners