Evans bounces back with UMTV bonanza

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The Independent Online

Chris Evans finally has something to smile about. The media tycoon, who split from his wife, Billie Piper, and was selling personal possessions on a market stall after taking several years off work, is thought to have received almost £2m last year from his new television company, UMTV.

Chris Evans finally has something to smile about. The media tycoon, who split from his wife, Billie Piper, and was selling personal possessions on a market stall after taking several years off work, is thought to have received almost £2m last year from his new television company, UMTV.

Mr Evans, 39, who used to present The Big Breakfast and TFI Friday, is trying to relaunch his TV career as a producer. This follows a career in radio, which he capped by selling Virgin Radio to SMG in 2000, making £70m.

Despite some setbacks, his new venture is going well. UMTV made a pre-tax profit of £1.1m last year, compared with £777,000 in 2003.

According to recently filed accounts, UMTV paid a dividend of £400,000 to its largest shareholder, Mr Evans. He also charged £352,250 for "production services" to the company. The highest-paid director - thought to be Mr Evans but not confirmed by the company - received a salary of £1.06m.

Turnover at UMTV more than doubled to £14m. Chris Gillett, joint managing director, said this was down to producing over 260 hours of live TV.

Last year the longest-running programmes made by UMTV, which was launched three years ago, were The Terry and Gaby Show, Boys and Girls and Live With ... Christian O'Connell.

Profits would be higher had Channel 4 decided to show a second series of Boys and Girls and if its Live With ... concept had not been dropped.

Programmes UMTV is currently making include the National Lottery Daily Play Live Draw Show and Channel 4's documentary The School of Hard Knocks. Johnny Vegas: 18 Stone of Idiot will air later this month.

Mr Evans blew an estimated £7m of his fortune in an unsuccessful legal action against Virgin in 2003.

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