There's serious money in comedy as Atkinson's company sells for £30m

Comedy has become a serious business for those hoping to make money. Last night it emerged that the company behind The Catherine Tate Show and The Vicar of Dibley, Tiger Aspect, may be bought out for about £30m.

The actor Rowan Atkinson co-owns the company and stands to make £4.5m from the sale of the company to sports programming specialist TWI, the fifth largest independent production company.

The five main shareholders in the company, who control three-quarters of Tiger Aspect, stand to make a huge profit from the takeover. Atkinson's personal fortune has been estimated to be in the region of £55m.

Peter Bennett-Jones, the chairman of Comic Relief, launched the production company in 1986. It was responsible for shows such as Harry Enfield and Chums, Mr Bean and Blackadder.

The takeover is in preliminary talks according to the companies involved.

In 2005, the company's first major feature film, The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse, was released. But the company has also produced documentaries, such as Omagh, which depicted the aftermath of the 1998 bombing that claimed 29 lives and two unborn babies.

It has also produced dramas such as Murphy's Law and is preparing a new family drama series, Robin Hood, for the BBC and a documentary on the life of the poet Sir John Betjeman.

It will not be the first lucrative takeover for owners of independent comedy production companies.

In July 2003, Hat Trick Productions, the company behind Have I Got News for You and The Office, sold a 45 per cent share in the firm to city investors for £23m. Hat Trick's management team became millionaires overnight, and founding directors Denise O'Donoghue and Jimmy Mulville each received more than £11m from the deal.

The independent sector is going through a wave of consolidation as it attracts more talent from the BBC, such as Sophie Clarke-Jervoise, who left her job as head of comedy to join Tiger Aspect last year. Lorraine Heggessey, the former BBC 1 controller left to become chief executive of Talkback Thames, the company behind Da Ali G Show, and Mark Freeland, former head of BBC comedy commissioning, has joined Hartswood Films, which made Men Behaving Badly.

TWI is also in talks to buy another British independent production house, Darlow Smithson, whose productions include Seconds from Disaster and the film Touching The Void.

The two deals will enable TWI to diversify away from sports programming and could make it Britain's biggest independent television producer.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam