Lenny Henry Launches Banijay-Backed Esmerelda Productions

Lenny Henry has launched a new production company backed by Banijay U.K.

Titled Esmerelda, the new venture will focus on drama and comedy with an emphasis on under-represented voices.

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Henry, an actor, comedian and writer, will take the position of joint co-managing director of the company alongside producer, writer and director Jon Sen.

Henry most recently starred in “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” and is soon set to launch his latest series, “Three Little Birds,” for ITV. Henry wrote the show while “Doctor Who” show runner Russell T Davies and Tiger Aspect’s Lucy Bedford exec produce.

Henry founded production company Douglas Road in 2014 and will stand down as CEO to focus on Esmerelda.

Douglas Road Productions will continue to be run by managing director Angela Ferreira.

Jon recently held a role at BBC Studios as an executive producer and development exec where he also helmed “Casualty” and “EastEnders.”

Banijay U.K. invested into the company via its growth fund and has also set up a first-look deal with Esmerelda.

Banijay has recently made investments into others companies including Rabbit Track and Conker Pictures via its growth fund.

“Building up to this announcement has been such a roller coaster ride of keeping my nose to the grindstone and my mouth shut,” said Henry. “I am so proud that Banijay have seen fit to invest in us. I can’t wait to scheme and dream with my new, soon to be announced, team at Esmerelda led by the mighty Jon Sen, who is not only a talented producer but also an excellent writer and director…“

Patrick Holland said: “We are so delighted to announce this investment in Esmerelda Productions. Sir Lenny Henry is both a national treasure and a creative legend in his own lifetime and, together with the brilliant Jon Sen, has plans for an ambitious scripted slate. Building on the excellence of Sir Lenny’s drama ‘Three Little Birds’ (made in conjunction with Tiger Aspect for ITV) the label will bring story telling from a wide range of diverse authorship to broad audiences. Banijay U.K. is so proud to be chosen as their creative and business partner.”

Jon Sen added: “Lenny and I are united in our commitment to offer artists a nurturing environment in order for them to celebrate their unique voices. Our shared love of the magic of story makes this a wonderfully exciting opportunity to make some exceptional drama.”

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