Glasgow indie cuts costs

Execs leave as Firecrest shuts London office

Michael Palin: four parter in production (pic: Firecrest)

Glasgow’s Firecrest Films is closing its London base and losing two senior executives to put itself on a firmer financial footing.

Joint creative director Mark Roberts and senior development producer Frank MacDonald have left the independent producer which was backed by the Channel 4 Growth Fund.

The indie, which employs almost 50 people, has seven series in production in Glasgow including BBC2 four-parter Michael Palin’s Travels, and a second series of BBC2 / BBC Scotland’s Murder Case, which has won two Bafta Scotland and three RTS Scotland awards. It also has four single docs in the works for BBC1 and C4.

The company opened its London base in 2017 following the investment from C4 in January 2017.

Mr Roberts helped build Firecrest’s offering beyond current affairs into broader popular factual, including the Palin series and the likes of Princess Diana’s Wicked Stepmother (C4), Paramedics on Scene (BBC Scotland) and How Your Other Half Spends (BBC Scotland).

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Mr MacDonald joined in October 2019 following a short stint at The Garden, having worked as a senior development producer for Pulse Films for two years.

Managing director Nicole Kleeman said the future of the business is in Glasgow, according to trade publication Broadcast which two years ago named Firecrest as the fastest growing independent TV company outside London.

“As a result of Covid, like many businesses, we have suffered significant cuts to our income. We have had to take some very tough decisions, including closing our London office, which means losing Mark Roberts and Frank MacDonald,” she added.

“Mark and Frank are not only brilliant colleagues but very dear friends of ours. As you can imagine, this has been a very painful decision, reflecting the very real difficulties the industry is facing.”

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