Dublin based Sideline Productions and its CCO Billy McGrath will attend MIPTV in Cannes next week with a wide range of new programming, formats and for the first time steps into the scripted market with a mini-series ‘Solid Lenny Bruce’ – based on the controversial American comic’s time in London, Dublin and Belfast in 1963; contemporary TV drama ‘Burgess GD’ and a range of scripted comedies including studio sitcom ‘Never Mind the Nursing Home’ (developed with director Declan Lowney) and all female sketch series ‘Waiting’ written by Fiona Looney.
‘Waiting’, piloted last year, has already been commissioned as a 6 part series by RTE (with BAI support) and will be staged live at the Project Arts Centre as part of Comedy Showhouse from Monday April 30th for 3 nights with an all-star cast. Deirdre O’Kane (Dancing with the Stars, Moone Boy & Noble); Best Young Irish Actress of the Year Caitriona Ennis and Rose Henderson – Father Ted and those ‘gas’ TV ads with Daniel O’Donnell – play all the roles with the 6 shows recorded for RTE Radio 1. At MIPTV Sideline will be pitching a TV version of the series with an edited VT promo of last year’s pilot. Because of the success of Comedy Showhouse, Sideline has emerged as one of Ireland’s most successful indie comedy producer with over 50 original Irish comedy half hours broadcast by the end of 2018.
Sideline’s McGrath adds – ‘One RTE is a good idea and we are committed to develop comedy writing that in the future may grasp with the necessary experience and skills to write for TV and Film. Radio is a fantastic medium in itself but for comedy – as proven by the BBC – it’s hugely cost effective as a development arm for ideas and talent’.
Billy attends MIPTV now as a Gold Member with his first visit with Windmill Lane Productions in 1991 when his feature length films with the Irish soccer team at Italia 90 plus Irish bands Clannad and The Pogues sold to broadcasters in nearly 30 territories.
‘That positive experience with James Morris brought home to me that with the right ideas, investment and distribution Irish creators can build an export business. Developing and producing Irish original content is the ongoing ambition and remains 50% of our focus’, McGrath adds.
After a two-year role as RTE’s first ever Commissioning Editor TV Entertainment, McGrath’s first independent commission in 2003 was Close Encounters with Keith Barry (RTE). The street magic series remains Ireland’s most successful TV entertainment export with gross sales over a million dollars. Sideline was also the first southern Irish indie to win UK factual and comedy commissions direct with Ch5 (Secrets of Great British Castles) and Ch4 (The Rubberbandits) respectively.
The first few months of 2018 has been busy for Sideline with 16 half hours for Comedy Showhouse plus two series for TV3 – the 7 hour studio entertainment series ‘Clubouse’ (hosted by Mario Rosenstock and Donncha O’Callaghan) based around the 6 Nations Championship and 4 part series ‘Revolting Ireland’ with Simon Delaney exploring the history of protest, marches and strikes in Ireland over the last 60 years. Backed by the BAI and S481, ‘Revolting Ireland’ features a host of guests like Bob Geldof, Blindboy (pictured), Nell McCafferty, Mairin De Burca, Joe Duffy, Marian Finucane, Terri Hooley amongst others, as they offer insights and eyewitness accounts of some of the most talked about and controversial events in Ireland’s industrial, political and social history. Armed with a specially edited Promo Reel, Sideline will be opening up discussions at MIPTV with potential production partners in selected territories to co-produce local versions e.g. Revolting Britain, Revolting France, Revolting Asia and Revolting Africa. ‘Revolting America’ was pitched by Sideline at Real Screen in Washington in January.
At MIPTV Sideline is also bringing their international series ‘Secrets of Great British Castles’ (commissioned by Ch5) to the next level. The series – distributed by DCD Rights – is one of Ireland’s most successful international factual format and sold worldwide including available on Netflix in 32 languages in 127 territories. A new series Mystery Histories – hosted by UK based historian Dan Jones – is being promoted by DCD at MIPTV. Series One features iconic European Castles – linked to Hitler, The Pope, the Crusades – and the development pitch has attracted interest from key broadcasters before the market starts.
At MIPTV Sideline will also be introducing ‘5* Family’ – a major competition studio series new adventure series ‘Climb Ireland’ (with Scottish climber Iain Miller) and a new co-pro alliance with Fired Up Films (Belfast and London) led by experienced executive producers Jon-Barrie Waddell and Simon Howley. Their first project, currently in development, is a factual TV series with comedy actor Ardal O’Hanlon travelling the length of the 500 km long Irish / UK border from Lough Foyle to Carlingford Lough.
‘With the experience of producing large scale formatted shows like Take Me Out, The Great Irish Bake Off and Mastermind, Sideline loves producing big international shows but will continue to invest in original programming – as does a host of other Irish producers – to boost the shared ambition to place Ireland as a producer of creative and innovative TV formats’.