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Legendary Entertainment and Acclaimed Showrunners Emma Frost and Matthew Graham Debut New UK-Based Joint Venture, Watford & Essex, with Full Slate and New COO

The joint venture’s initial slate of ten projects in development coming from renowned show-creators include:

  • a thriller from Stephen Butchard
  • AMAZONIA from Misha Glenny and Kirsty Lang
  • CHAMPIONESS based on the graphic novel by Kelly Zekas & Tarun Shanker
  • a reimagining of the classic VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA from Chris Lunt & Michael Walker
  • the dark comedy-drama HAIL SATAN from Emma Frost and Matthew Graham

The company also announces Christine Healy as COO, joining from New Pictures

LOS ANGELES, November 23, 2020 – Legendary Entertainment and two of the industry’s luminary showrunners Emma Frost and Matthew Graham have formed a new joint venture, Watford & Essex. The new Bristol-based UK drama production company, which is launching with a slate of ten projects in development, sees acclaimed British writers/showrunners Frost and Graham ( “Life On Mars,” “Ashes to Ashes,” “The White Queen,” “The Spanish Princess,” “Doctor Who” and “The Man In The High Castle”) serving as joint CEOs. The two will team with Legendary Entertainment’s television division and focus on TV production and financing of projects built for the international market.

 

Additionally, Christine Healy has been named as COO, joining the venture from New Pictures where she served as Head of Production since 2016 and reuniting her with Frost and Graham.

 

The venture will develop, produce and deficit finance British and international high-end scripted programming across a range of genres – from thrillers and crime to dramedy, fantasy and YA – working with networks, co-producers and financiers in all markets. The company is already in development with projects from some of the most acclaimed and sought-after show-creators in the UK, including Stephen Butchard, Rob Williams and Ashley Pharoah, and is developing some big brand IP sourced from Legendary. Watford & Essex’s current list of projects in development include:

 

  • VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA – a futuristic underwater adventure series based upon the classic Irwin Allen television series from the 1960’s. Developed and written by BAFTA nominated Chris Lunt and Michael Walker (DEVILS; YOUNG WALLANDER).
  • HAIL, SATAN! – a dark social comedy-drama created by Emma Frost and Matthew Graham, in development with UK’s Channel 4.
  • CHAMPIONESS – the forthcoming Legendary Comics graphic novel based on a true story, created by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas (on sale on April 2021). Set in the ferocious, male-dominated world of C18th bareknuckle boxing, the series will be told through the lens of championess Elizabeth Wilkinson, reimagined as half-Indian and a daughter of an immigrant, as she trains to become the best female fighter in London.
  • ROXANA – a dark and funny parable about female identity, adapted from the Daniel Defoe novel by Emma Frost.
  • A contemporary thriller from BAFTA-award winning Stephen Butchard (Rose D’or-nominated BAGHDAD CENTRAL; THE LAST KINGDOM);
  • An original project from BAFTA-nominated Rob Williams (THE VICTIM; KILLING EVE; THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE; and upcoming SUSPICION.)
  • MATILDA – a Medieval female-driven political adventure series created by Matthew Graham.
  • HEAT – an original supernatural YA drama set on a London housing estate. Created by Sian Ejiwunmi-Le Berre.
  • THE ALICE (w/t) – a family medical drama set in Australia. Created by Ashley Pharoah (AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS; LIFE ON MARS; WILD AT HEART.)

 

  • AMAZONIA – an epic environmental thriller from International Emmy winner Misha Glenny (McMAFIA); BBC broadcaster and journalist Kirsty Lang; and Robert Muggah and Ilona Szabo of the Rio-based Igarapé Institute.

 

“It is such a treat for us to be in partnership with Legendary on this new adventure,” said Frost and Graham. “With Legendary’s success, talent and experience behind us, we’re confident that we can make some great, hit shows and have a blast doing it! TV continues to enjoy a golden age of creative diversity and risk. We’ve always enjoyed pushing the envelope in terms of bold and genre-bending ideas, and Legendary has always put fearless creativity at the centre of their business. These two styles can only grow and develop with this new company.”

 

“We are thrilled to launch this new venture with Emma and Matthew, who have proven time and time again to be masterful storytellers, and to develop a slate of international projects that foster diversity and nurture both young and accomplished creative talent alike,” said Chris Albrecht, Managing Director of Legendary Television.

 

In addition to big names and noisy brands, Watford & Essex is committed to nurturing and commissioning new talent across the full spectrum of social and diverse backgrounds, ensuring that those voices are present not just as show creators, but also directors, producers, actors and all areas of production.

 

Watford & Essex marks yet another partnership by Legendary, reinforcing its strategy of expanding its global footprint. Legendary continues to be a leading international provider of compelling new content drawing from impressive IP and featuring premier talent. The company’s international television division is focused on developing, financing and producing premium scripted English and local language television for the global market and fulfilling the heightened demand for TV content around the world. Other recently announced partnerships include Legendary’s joint ventures in Spain with ESPotlight and in India with Vikram Motwane.

 

Frost and Graham are represented by Alex Kohner at Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein & Kohner Entertainment Law in the US. In the UK Frost is represented by Ligeia Marsh at Curtis Brown. Graham is represented by Valerie Hoskins at Valerie Hoskins Associates.

 

About Matthew Graham:

Matthew Graham began his writing life at the relatively tender age of 22 writing in children’s drama before taking up a post as staff-writer on BBC’s flagship soap, “Eastenders.” He went on to write on the seminal, BAFTA nominated drama “This Life” as well as on major BBC dramas such as “Spooks” (aka “MI:5” in the US) and “Hustle”, which aired on AMC. In 1998, Matthew created and wrote his first original piece for television – limited series “The Last Train”, which was adapted for ABC in the US.  This led to more original work for both BBC and ITV before Matthew co-created the internationally acclaimed hit “Life On Mars” which won two International Emmys and a BAFTA People’s Award. The sequel, “Ashes to Ashes” ran for three seasons and won numerous TV awards as well as cementing its lead character Gene Hunt as one of television’s most exciting and popular fictional detectives. Matthew then went on to write on two seasons of the global phenomenon “Doctor Who,” and in 2008, he joined a small, close-knit writing team working with George Lucas out of Skywalker Ranch on a “Star Wars” live action TV show. Since then, Matthew has been working predominantly in the States, writing and running SyFy mini-series “Childhood’s End” – an adaptation of the Arthur C Clarke novel. Matthew exec produced alongside Akiva Goldsman and Michael DeLuca. The show was nominated for the Critics’ Choice Awards. He also recently contributed a stand-alone story for Amazon Prime’s “Electric Dreams.” Matthew now creates and produces shows with partner Emma Frost. He has been showrunning “The Spanish Princess” alongside Emma – as a limited series for Starz.

 

About Emma Frost:

Emma Frost is a writer, Executive Producer and TV showrunner who has spent the last few years working between the UK and US. Frost’s period drama “The Spanish Princess” (co-created with Graham) is currently airing on Starz and is a follow up to her critically acclaimed “The White Princess” and BBC1/Starz co-production “The White Queen,” which was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards, including Best TV Movie or Miniseries, and four Emmys, including Outstanding Miniseries. In movies, she’s had a busy few years, adapting Jennifer Donnelly’s Stepsister for 51 Entertainment/Made-Up Stories; Switched On for Focus Features; and penning the screenplay for Ron Howard movie Zelda, to star Jennifer Lawrence. Also for Made-Up Stories, she adapted the YA novel All These Beautiful Strangers with John Polson attached to direct; and she recently adapted a best-selling novel for Netflix. Previously in TV, Frost adapted Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn as a three-hour miniseries for BBC1. She has written on Amazon’s Philip K. Dick adaptation, “The Man in the High Castle”; and Sky Atlantic’s “The Tunnel.” She was lead writer on three series of Channel 4’s multi-award-winning drama “Shameless.” Her original BBC4 film, “Consuming Passion” received 5-star reviews, and she worked with Julia Davis on award-winning comedy “Nighty Night.” Frost is also a playwright and her play Airsick premiered at The Bush Theatre, London to great critical acclaim in 2003. For ten years, Frost was trustee and chief fundraiser for African Children Arts charity Anno’s Africa. Frost started out life as a Fine Artist.

 

About Christine Healy:

Christine Healy joins Emma & Matthew as COO of Watford & Essex from New Pictures, where she has been Head of Production since 2016. Her list of credits there include highly acclaimed productions for many UK and International broadcasters – “The Spanish Princess,” “DES,” “The Deceived,” “COBRA,” “White House Farm,” “Catherine the Great,” “The Innocents,” “Requiem” and “Rellik.” Prior to New Pictures, Christine worked as a Production Consultant within the BBC Drama Department, overseeing programmes such as “Our Girl,” “Silent Witness,” “Red Water” and “Undercover.” She has also had a successful career as a freelance Line Producer in High End TV, working on such production as “Doctor Foster,” “Indian Summers,” “Line of Duty,” “Tommy Cooper,” “The White Queen,” where she first met and worked with Emma Frost, and many more. Christine also Chairs Screenskills High End TV Skills Council and sits on Screenskills Board. She is committed to affording opportunities for training and career development within HETV and as Chair she is able to help identify skills gaps current and future within HETV and work with the team at Screenskills, industry leaders and industry trade bodies, agencies, guilds, broadcasters etc to open doors to people from all backgrounds into the HETV industry and to help progress their careers within it. Christine also is fortunate to act as an external examiner at the National Film and Television School which has given her the insight into the great talent that the school produces.

 

About Legendary Entertainment:

Legendary Entertainment is a leading media company with film (Legendary Pictures), television (Legendary Television), comics (Legendary Comics) and digital media (Legendary Digital Networks) divisions dedicated to owning, producing and delivering content to worldwide audiences. Legendary has built a library of marquee media properties and has established itself as a trusted brand which consistently delivers high-quality, commercial entertainment including some of the world’s most popular intellectual property. In aggregate, Legendary Pictures-associated productions have realized grosses of more than $17 billion worldwide at the box office. To learn more visit: www.legendary.com.