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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'