Business

Channel 4 wildlife series to be produced by Belfast company Waddell Media

BELFAST-based independent production company Waddell Media has been commissioned to produce a 10-part peak-time version of a wildlife documentary for transmission on Channel 4 this autumn.

It comes as its new 20-part daytime series Work on the Wild Side went on air yesterday, showing at 4pm every weekday for four weeks.

And Waddell has also just started filming on a new three-part cookery series Suzie Lee: Home Cook Hero following BBC NI’s recent commissioning round, with development funding also provided for a new gardening series.

Work on the Wild Side follows vets and volunteers who gave up their day jobs and moved to South Africa to rescue, rehabilitate and release some of the world’s most endangered animals and was shot entirely on location in South Africa with production units working across dozens of different locations.

Jannine Waddell, managing director Waddell Media and executive producer of the series says: “I'm absolutely delighted that Channel 4 shared my enthusiasm to bring these wonderful stories to life and for the support from Northern Ireland Screen to make it happen.

“I always believed the series could sit in peak, so I’m delighted that commissioner Jo Street agreed and has ordered a ten part 30-minute version of the series for transmission later this year."

Janine added: “Nothing in television is easy and this certainly wasn’t. Not only was it to be filmed in South Africa, more than 14 hours flying time away from Belfast, but it had to be produced on a daytime budget, so from the very start we knew it was going to be a challenge.

“When lockdown happened it was a critical time for the series, although we were lucky all filming was complete, we still had a lot of editing to complete and the team are working remotely from several different locations in Holywood, Leeds, Guildford, Donegal and Belfast.

“Plus we were actively pitching Suzie Lee: Home Cook Hero and our wonderful new gardening show concept to BBC NI during this time, which I’m delighted have been picked up.

“The impact the lockdown is having on production is frightening, as we’ve had to put several productions into hiatus like so many independents, which is devastating as it affects many amazing freelance staff we work with.

“But we are lucky that Northern Ireland Screen has been supportive to the sector by opening up a development fund that helps us continue with our long term plans.”

Work on the Wild Side series producer Lee Salisbury says: “This series will be a real escape for people sitting at home watching, but the impact that the lockdown is having on the ground in South Africa is heart-breaking.

“The people we’ve been following are really on the ropes. With tourism collapsing, there’s precious little money for conservation projects and poaching is on the increase.

“We hope to be able to pick up on these stories soon and highlight the existential crisis facing the natural world in Africa as soon as its possible.”

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