Endeavor Content’s newly-rebranded Fifth Season has signalled major international intentions with the hire of Ben Irving, the BBC’s former Acting Drama Director whose exec producer credits include His Dark Materials, Doctor Who and Gentleman Jack.
Irving joins in the newly-created role of Creative Director, UK Television, coming a week after Endeavor rebranded to Fifth Season following the $785M acquisition of 80% of its scripted outfit by South Korean powerhouse CJ ENM.
Irving will lead the studio’s UK production and development team, working across existing UK development projects as well as forging new series. Fifth Season’s recent U.S. TV projects include Apple TV+’s Severance, Peacock’s Wolf Like Me and HBO Max’s Tokyo Vice and it also distributes the like of Killing Eve, The Night Manager and Normal People.
He will start in November, reporting to EVP, TV Production and Development Joe Hipps, who described him as “the key ingredient we were looking for.”
“His prolific experience, strategic sensibilities, long-standing creative relationships and exceptional taste for great programs will be instrumental as our presence grows in the UK,” added Hipps.
Irving said Hipps and Endeavor CEOs Graham Taylor and Chris Rice have “built something special.”
He added: “The company has always had a strong international focus, and together we will build on their many successes to further ramp up the studio’s TV productions, continuing to support and empower the best creators and producers in the UK, and beyond, to tell stories that will resonate with global audiences.”
Irving is the second seasoned BBC drama exec to join a supercharged international division of a big U.S. player this year, following former Drama Director Piers Wenger’s high-profile move to A24.
He joined the BBC in 2017 and moved up to Commissioning Editor a year later, exec producing some of the corporation’s biggest shows including His Dark Materials, Doctor Who, Gentleman Jack, Industry, The Capture and Sherwood.
Upon Wenger’s departure, he became Acting Drama Director but was beaten to the top job permanently by Netflix UK Scripted Commissioner Lindsay Salt recently.
Prior to joining the BBC, Irving was VP, Development and Production at David Heyman’s Heyday Films, where he worked on features including Gravity, Paddington