• Sister companies Pioneer Productions and Mentorn Media have appointed Nicholas Oakley as Executive Producer, US Development, it was announced today (THURS).

    Based in Los Angeles, Oakley will develop new series and adapt formats for US networks, building on both companies' successes to date in the non-scripted genre.

    Oakley is a British executive who has lived and worked in the US for six years.  Most recently he was Vice President, Series Development, MTV since 2008.  His responsibilities included A Double Shot At Love, The Girls of Hedsor Hall (adapted from UK series Ladette to Lady) and the teen pregnancy documentary Baby High.

    Prior to that he was Vice President, Development at ITV Studios' Los Angeles base, then known as Granada America, for three years.  There he created new series such as But Can They Sing? for VH1, looked after current series such as Celebrity Fit Club, also for VH1, and discovered foreign formats such as Phenomenon which was sold to NBC.

    Pioneer has also announced the recruitment of former Nat Geo alumnus Tiffany Orvet as development producer for the US. Orvet, will work alongside Oakley from San Francisco, and is charged with developing ideas, formats and relationships for a range of networks with a more female demographic.

    Jeremy Dear, Head of Development, Pioneer Productions says: "These appointments are part of Pioneer's continuing growth and development in the US.  We've always had great relationships with a number of the most important networks on the East Coast, but Nick and Tiffany's appointments will spread our reach even further into the market and particularly those networks based in LA."

    David Leach, Managing Director Mentorn International and President Mentorn USA, says: "Mentorn has built a successful US production business with hit series such as Work Out and Paradise Hotel and these appointments show our commitment to accelerate growth and take the business to the next level by investing further resources into US development."

    Oakley adds: "Pioneer is at the forefront of great-quality documentary series and Mentorn has a strong reputation in the US for big reality formats and I'm proud to be joining the team. I look forward to expanding our strong output with fresh and creative ideas and am delighted to be involved at this exciting time."

    Pioneer Productions over the past 20 years has produced numerous series for the US market across many genres, including science, history and lifestyle programming.  Previous shows including the Emmy award-winning In the Womb, Inside The Living Body, How the Earth Was Made, Naked Science, World's Most Extreme Homes and many others, for clients including Discovery, TLC, HGTV, National Geographic, PBS, Travel Channel, History Channel and others.

    Mentorn USA has operated out of Los Angeles for the past 10 years, and productions include three series of Work Out for Bravo, Paradise Hotel for Fox, America's Worst Driver for the Travel Channel, Fast & Dangerous for Fox Reality and Chef Academy for Bravo.

    Mentorn USA also produces a large number of documentaries and current affairs programmes for Discovery Networks, National Geographic, ABC News, PBS, A&E and other cable networks; and cutting-edge contemporary TV movies and series, such as the Emmy Award nominated "The Hamburg Cell" (HBO).


    Notes to Editors

    Nicholas Oakley's career started at the BBC in London eleven years ago as researcher on a late-night daily comedy show. He went on to cast contestants on big game shows like Jet Set.  When the Weakest Link format sold worldwide, he spent a year as a part of the consultancy team to foreign producers. After spending time freelancing at companies including Sky, Carlton and Tiger Aspect, Nicholas joined the  development team at ITV Studios in the UK 2003, then known as Granada.  There, he created pitches and developed items for award-winning hits like Saturday Night Takeaway, Brainiac and The Paul O'Grady Show before he moved to America.

    For more information and pictures or interview opportunities please contact Louise Plank on 020 8 995 393 or lou@plankpr.com

  • Katie Hopkins Shares Opinion on Sexism Row

    Business woman and former Apprentice contestant, Katie Hopkins, offered her opinion on the sexism row involving Andy Gray and Richard Keys on Question Time which came from Cambridge on 27th January.

    She said: "I think Sky Sports has completely lost its sense of humour. I think as a nation potentially we have lost out collective sense of humour. I think people like Karen Brady, who has appointed herself patron saint of all things equal, does not speak on behalf of all of the sister hood.

    "I think women actually don't want equal treatment - they couldn't handle it if they got it quite a number of them. It's a tough world out there and what a lot of women are asking for, and you can look aghast at this, is special treatment.

    "If you look at all-female shortlists for positions - is that equal treatment or is that special treatment? I think what women need to realise is that you have to toughen up. You can't ask for equal pay. You have to be paid on performance and you have to be paid on the results you deliver. It's a tough world out there and I don't think Karen Brady and others are doing us any favours by putting this sort of debate out there. I think we have to just compete in what is a tough world.

    "Finally I think that the art of banter is something we should be proud of as a nation. I worked for a while in the military and our forces - the best in the world in my opinion - they survive on banter. If you ask any of the lads what they love about their jobs, part of that is the banter. And I think you need to keep that we need to look after it. Do we want a world which is completely void of colour? Do we want everything to be magnolia? No we don't. I think we need banter and I think those poor guys really died on their swords and have been stabbed in the back by people like Karen Brady."

    David Dimbleby was joined by the Energy Secretary and Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne, parliamentary private secretary to Labour leader Ed Miliband, Chuka Umunna, former Conservative MP Edwina Currie, businesswoman and former Apprentice contestant Katie Hopkins and journalist Will Self.

    Question Time will be on BBC One at 2235 GMT on Thursday 27 January and available on BBC iPlayer after transmission.

  • Energy Secretary and Liberal Democrat MP, Chris Huhne said of the earlier police investigation into phone hacking: "I think that the police should have been more inquisitorial about the evidence that turned up".

    He said that when he was not in Government he told the police "that they were getting the wool pulled over their eyes" about the "rogue reporter at the News of the World".

    Also on the panel was parliamentary private secretary to Labour leader Ed Miliband, Chuka Umunna; former Conservative MP Edwina Currie; businesswoman and former Apprentice contestant Katie Hopkins and journalist Will Self.

    Question Time will be on BBC One at 2235 GMT on Thursday 27 January and available on BBC iPlayer after transmission.

  • BBC One's political debate programme, Question Time, is being hosted from Cambridge this evening.

    David Dimbleby chairs the programme which sees Liberal Democrat MP for Eastleigh and Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne; Labour MP from Streatham and Parliamentary private secretary to Labour leader Ed Miliband, Chuka Umunna; former Conservative MP Edwina Currie; businesswoman and former Apprentice contestant Kate Hopkins and journalist Will Self, face questions from the audience.

    To apply for a seat in a future Question Time audience you can register your question at www.bbc.co.uk/questiontime or call the audience line on 01299 829 299

    For further information please contact Louise Plank on 020 8995 3936 or lou@plankpr.com

  • Clive Holland is back with a third series of BBC One's popular Cowboy Trap and he wants to hear about your building problems.

    Presenter Clive and his team are filming throughout the UK looking for people whose lives and properties are currently in a state of chaos or disruption thanks to 'cowboy' workmen. Once the damage from work - or lack of it - is assessed, his team attempt to rectify the problems.

    Clive Holland said: "The series has really hit a chord with viewers and there are still builders out there behaving improperly and causing people anxiety and stress as a result.

    "We're looking for more stories from people who have been victim of bad workmanship that for example hasn't passed basic building standards or work that has never been completed or botched with builders refusing to return and remedy the bad workmanship; or people who have paid money up front to the builder who hasn't finished the job and walked off leaving the owner out of pocket.

    "In previous series we've heard from vulnerable people who builders have taken advantage of. I want to keep raising awareness of the pit falls out there and help viewers protect themselves."

    If you think Clive could help you or have had such an experience or know someone who could benefit from Clive's expertise and his team's help please contact Mentorn Media on 020 7258 6724.

  • On Question Time from Burnley, Alastair Campbell, former Downing St spokesman for Tony Blair, said that Alan Johnson had to take a "bigger decision" about his personal life "which is going to play out in the public arena which will not be very nice for him".

    Challenged about his own criticism of Ed Balls in his diaries, Campbell accepted: "I have said some unkind things" but that he had been "incredibly impressed" by Ball's performance in the Shadow Cabinet, giving the Government "a run for their money". Campbell said that the differences between Ed Balls and Ed Miliband were "not that profound..they will work together and as a team they will be formidable."

    The full quotes and programme is on BBC One at 10.35pm or on BBC iplayer.


  • BBC One's political debate programme, Question Time, is being hosted from Burnley this Thursday, 20th January.

    David Dimbleby chairs the programme from Burnley. The panel includes Alastair Campbell; the Secretary of State for the Environment Caroline Spelman; and the Chairman of the Professional Footballers Association, the Burnley defender Clarke Carlisle.

    To apply for a seat in the audience you can register your question at www.bbc.co.uk /questiontime or call the audience line on 01299 829 299.

    For further information please contact Louise Plank on 020 8995 3936 or lou@plankpr.com

  • In a rare break from rehearsals for forthcoming performances of Giselle and Swan Lake, Principal Guest Artist with The Royal Ballet, Carlos Acosta, made his first ever visit to the Lower School, White Lodge yesterday. Accompanied by The Royal Ballet School's Assistant Director, Jay Jolley, the Cuban ballet legend was taken on a tour of the site which included the historic Kings Pavilion, the White Lodge Museum & Ballet Resource Centre.

    The visit culminated with a surprise visit to the year 7 boys daily ballet class which was being filmed as part of a forthcoming ITV1 documentary entitled The Children of Britain. Mr Acosta watched the class and then talked to the boys - aged between 11 and 12 - sharing with them insights and tips about technique and training and he also talked about his personal experience as he started his career as a young boy in Cuba.

    The Children of Britain is being made by Mentorn Media and is part of the Perspectives series which encompasses single, factual films from a variety of film-makers and, on occasion, presenters, offering their views on subject matter ranging from life in Britain today to the Arts.

    Photo: Patrick Baldwin


    For more information please contact Louise Plank on 020 8995 3936 or lou@plankpr.com

  • BBC One's political debate programme, Question Time, is being hosted from London this evening.

    David Dimbleby chairs the programme from the country's capital which sees Surrey Heath MP and Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove; Shadow Minister for Public Health and MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington Diane Abbott; MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber and former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy; acclaimed author and journalist Jeanette Winterson and business entrepreneur and Dragons' Den regular James Caan, face questions from the audience.

    To apply for a seat in the audience you can register your question at www.bbc.co.uk /questiontime or call the audience line on 01299 829 299.

    For further information please contact Louise Plank on 020 8995 3936 or lou@plankpr.com

  • Last night saw Motorway Cops win it's slot for the second time this year when 3.05m tuned into BBC One, which secured a 22% share of the audience in the 10.35pm slot.

    Peaking at 3.17m with a share of 27%, last night's show, Deadly Distraction, saw the motorway cops cracking down on irresponsible lorry drivers by taking to the nation's motorways in their own HGV, and also teaming up with traffic examiners to catch truckers using sneaky tricks to stay on the road longer than is permitted.

    For further information please contact Louise Plank on 020 8995 3936 or lou@plankpr.com

  • Mentorn International has secured deals of An Idiot Abroad with Discovery USA's Science Channel as well as Canada and territories across Europe to add to the deals in Australia and New Zealand, it was announced today (FRI).

    The Mentorn-produced, eight-part series which stars Karl Pilkington, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant in a documentary travelogue starts on January 22nd on the Science Channel, following world-record breaking podcast star Karl Pilkington as he embarks on a journey to discover the Seven Wonders of the World.

    "It's great to have An Idiot Abroad on such a prestigious and innovative outlet," said Gervais.  "Karl didn't even go to school and now look at him. I can't wait to hear how they announce it on air. 'And now on Science Channel, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant send a chimp around the world to annoy it.'"


    Mentorn International has also confirmed sales of the series to Discovery Channel in Canada where it will broadcast from January 21st, SVT in Sweden, TV3 in Denmark, YLE in Finland, NRK in Norway, ITC Skjarinn in Iceland. These are in addition to the previously announced territories of Australia (Network Ten) and New Zealand (TV3).

    David Leach, Managing Director of Mentorn International, said: "I'm delighted that Science Channel is showing An Idiot Abroad in the US and I'm sure it will be a great success. People around the world are laughing at Karl's antics as the series is already showing in even more countries than Karl visited on his epic voyage of discovery."

    "Science Channel is television's home for the thought provocateur - and no one provokes like Ricky Gervais.  He's the perfect fit for our network," said Debbie Myers, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Science Channel.  "Karl Pilkington gives An Idiot Abroad a real heart.  He has a fearless, childlike wonder that allows him to ask the questions that others are afraid to.  His fish-out-of-water experiences in these new, mysterious worlds make him the epitome of an 'accidental scientist.'"



    Notes to editors:

    About Mentorn International

    Mentorn International is the long-established international distributor of programme content and formats for TV companies including Mentorn Media, BBC World, Pioneer Productions, Daybreak Pictures, Quicksilver, Folio, Ludus and Mentorn USA. Mentorn International licenses formats and programmes in the reality, entertainment, factual entertainment, documentary, drama and popular factual genres.

    About An Idiot Abroad

    The eight-part series premiered on SKY1 HD in 2010. Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are outraged that Karl has written off the Seven Wonders having never seen any of them with his own eyes. They've thrown down the gauntlet to send him around the globe to force him out of his comfort zone. Stephen wants the experience to broaden Karl's mind and change his outlook on the world. Ricky wants Karl to hate every minute of it for his own amusement.

    Despatched on what many would term a journey of a lifetime, the 'little Englander' will be putting his misgivings to one side as Karl finds out for himself what the fuss is about. He will travel to the Great Wall of China, Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, Petra in Jordan, Machu Picchu in Peru, Chichen Itza in Mexico, the Taj Mahal in India and the Great Pyramids of Egypt. Meanwhile Gervais and Merchant will be keeping a watchful eye from London, monitoring every step of Pilkington's journey. The conclusion of the series will see the weary traveller returning home to report on his findings.


    For further information please contact Louise Plank on behalf of Mentorn International on 020 8995 3936 or lou@plankpr.com

  • Last night a massive 3.12m tuned into BBC One to watch Motorway Cops, which secured a 22% share of the audience in the 10.35pm slot.

    Peaking at 3.24m with a share above 25%, it totalled more than all of the other terrestrial opposition combined - one of the strongest performances by any programme in this time slot.

    Last night's show saw the motorway cops faced with organised criminal gangs from overseas who use Britain's motorways to travel up and down the country, from city to city, stealing to order, as well as a woman caught with a mobile phone whose lies to extricate herself landed her in more and more trouble.

    The next episode of Motorway Cops is on BBC One on Tuesday 11th January, at 10.35pm.