Company History

FremantleMedia UK, formerly independent production company talkbackTHAMES, is the UK production arm of FremantleMedia, the global production and content business of the RTL Group, Europe’s largest television and radio company. 

The company was formed in January 2012 when the company restructured into a portfolio of labels managed by creative leaders. It now comprises of six labels - Boundless, Retort, Talkback, Thames, Newman Street, Euston Films and digital unit Shotglass Media.

Across the group the labels provide award winning programming for all major terrestrial, digital channels and digital outlets.  With an unparalleled range of programming including:  The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, Celebrity Juice, Take Me Out, Over The Rainbow, The Apprentice, You’re Fired, Four Rooms, Grand Designs, Great British Railway Journeys, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, The IT Crowd, QI, Suspects, Count Arthur Strong, Escape to the Country, World's Strangest, PhoneShop,The Sinking of the Laconia, Kidnap and Ransom and Holy Flying Circus - the Group has aired over 326 hours of programming on terrestrial TV in the past 12 months alone.    


Talkback was founded in 1981 by Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones. It quickly developed a reputation for award winning comedy and entertainment programming, producing hit shows such as Emmy Award winning Smack the Pony, Da Ali G Show, I'm Alan Partridge, The Day Today, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, They Think It's All Over, The 11 O'Clock Show and Big Train, and was run for many years by CEO Peter Fincham.

Branching out from comedy successes, Talkback’s factual programming went from strength to strength in the late 1990’s, producing a string of highly successful series including House Doctor, Jamie’s Kitchen, Grand Designs, Would Like To Meet, Property Ladder and How Clean Is Your House?

Along with several other critically acclaimed drama titles, Talkback produced Stephen Poliakoff’s Emmy Award winning drama The Lost Prince in 2003 and produced many radio programmes for Radio One, Two and Four. In 2000, Talkback was bought by Pearson Television.

THAMES first went on air as a broadcaster in 1968 and served as the largest company in the ITV Network. Between then and the end of its broadcaster licence in 1991, THAMES produced programmes in every conceivable genre: news, documentaries, drama, light entertainment, comedy, social concern, education, religion and children’s programmes.

Some of the programmes they made are to this day legends of British television, including Morecambe and Wise, Man About the House, The Sweeney, Minder, Danger Mouse, Count Duckula and Rainbow. Many of these are still repeated on satellite and even terrestrial television.

Others such as Benny Hill, The World at War, Hollywood: The Silent Years and Edward and Mrs Simpson are still very much in demand overseas.

In 1991 following the expiration of THAMES’ broadcast licence, the company consolidated and became the UK’s largest independent producer, continuing to provide ITV with hit shows including The Bill. In 1993 THAMES was acquired by Pearson Television and under Chief Executive Greg Dyke began acquiring other production and distribution companies to create a television powerhouse.

In April 2000, Pearson Television merged with CLT-UFA to form RTL Group. The company was renamed FremantleMedia, but THAMES retained its name for UK business.

talkbackTHAMES was formed in 2003, when Talkback and THAMES merged under the FremantleMedia umbrella to form a single company.

In January 2012, the company was restructured into a portfolio of labels managed by creative leaders including Richard Holloway, Dan Baldwin, Jon Rolph, Paul Marquess and  Patrick Holland.

The labels are supported by a new division, FremantleMedia UK, led by interim CEO, Richard Holloway.  The structure has been designed to give the company’s market leading talent greater creative freedom and autonomy in order to deliver the best programmes for customers.

Each label has a creative leader as the Managing Director, a Head of Development and a Head of Production.  The labels consist of:

  • Boundless - Combining factual entertainment, factual features and specialist factual to create a complete factual label. 

  • FremantleMedia UK CommercialFremantleMedia UK Commercial team is responsible for building new experiences around the company's programming, in order to build brands beyond the TV screen. Core activities include interactive/digital, brand partnerships, live and gaming.

  • Retort- Headed up by leading scripted comedy producer and executive Jon Rolph, Retort's focus is on scripted comedy.

  • Talkback -Recognising the long history in comedy entertainment, Talkback is headed by Leon Wilson.

  • Thames - Celebrating the strong heritage of entertainment, Thames is led by Richard Holloway, and Suzy Lamb is Head of Entertainment.

  • Newman Street - The lables' latest commission Suspects for Channel 5 - epitomises what Newman Street is all about - drama inspired by real people with storytelling that reflects real lives.

  • Euston Films -The latest label to join the FremantleMedia UK stable, a drama label, Euston Films will launch later this year, and will be headed up by Kate Harwood.

  • Shotglass Media - Headed up by Kat Hebden. The Digital team works across all Fremantle's UK labels creating and producing all the on and off-air activities, such as second screen apps and extensions; YouTube and multi-channel networks; original online channels and television and digital sponsorships.