WINGSPAN is dedicated to rigorous journalism, engaging, sharp story-telling and intelligent, witty and accessible treatment of its subject matter. Its projects tend to be ambitious, singular and innovative as well as highly entertaining.
WINGSPAN'S wingspan extends to history, science, arts, current affairs, observational documentary, music, religion, celebrity travelogue, popular factual, and formatted factual entertainment.
WINGSPAN was founded in 2008 by Archie Baron, who co-ran Takeaway Media for 10 years and had previously been an in-house BBC producer/director and series producer. Lil Cranfield joined WINGSPAN in 2011 as Head of Production. The company is proud of its reputation for being one of the best places to work in factual television, attracting award-winning producer/directors to work here time and again.
WINGSPAN’s range is exemplified by its recent output. Transmissions in 2017 spanned from Tunes for Tyrants, a 'marvellous, ambitious and wise' (The Daily Mail) series about how the power of music was used and abused in some of the most tumultuous years of the 20th Century, to Who Should We Let In? - 'astute, thorough and entertaining' (The Times) - which was just the latest BBC Two film in our longstanding relationship with Ian Hislop. We were glad to collaborate twice more with acclaimed film-maker Richard Alwyn: Into the Wind was a 'moving meditation on walking and nature' (The Observer) following one man's quest to capture the elusive sound of 'pure' wind; and Speechless told the powerful stories of two people living with aphasia - a 'thoughtful, compassionate' (The Express) film about language and its loss. With Listen to Britain 2017 we took over BBC Four for an evening! 75 years after Humphrey Jennings' wartime masterpiece Listen to Britain, we worked with the BFI and BBC to select and support 12 up-and-coming filming-makers who, inspired by the original, made short films reflecting the incredible diversity of Britain today.
WINGSPAN was also chosen in 2017 as one of just three companies selected to make bundles of films for the next two series of the BBC's flagship science strand Horizon, so in 2018 we're already in production with some seriously exciting science programmes, along with several other intriguing projects - watch this space!
Looking further back... In 2016 we staged our first West End Musical, Beyond the Fence – the first complete show ever to be ‘written’ by computer. This was the culmination of an extraordinary meeting of science and art in a bold and bonkers experiment with a big question at its heart: can human creativity be coded? The story of the experiment was told in two WINGSPAN documentaries for Sky Arts, Computer Says Show, nominated for a Rockie Award and a Broadcast Award for Best Original Programme. Over on BBC2, Workers or Shirkers: Ian Hislop’s Victorian Benefits, hit the headlines with its interview showing Iain Duncan Smith reduced to tears – “undeniably great telly” (The Telegraph) “intelligent and entertaining” (The Times). And Hannah Fry presented the ‘exceptionally witty and playful’ (The Times) Joy of Data on BBC Four which ‘did for numbers what Brian Cox did for space’ (The Guardian). Its opening scene won the prize at WCSFP 2016 for the best explanation of complex science in the world that year.
2015 ranged from the light-hearted but passionate: The Great American Love Song with Nicky Campbell on ITV, the witty: How to be Bohemian with Victoria Coren Mitchell a three-part series on BBC Four, to the more serious: Don't Panic: How To End Poverty in 15 Years, “making the complex seem simple, delivered with humour” (The Independent).
2014 saw Our Gay Wedding – the Musical for Channel 4 receive numerous award nominations – BAFTA and RTS among them. It won the Grierson for Best Entertaining Documentary, cited as “a bold concept, perfectly executed. It has amazing confidence from the get-go and stands apart as a unique, important, moving and joyous piece of television”. It also won the Prix Italia and the Rose D’Or. Meanwhile the couldn’t-be-more-different Joy of Logic won two Grierson nominations and the top award at AFO, Europe’s biggest international festival of Science films. Michael Grade’s revealing feature-length documentary portrait of The Real Tom Thumb and Michael Collins’ fervent defence of suburbia in Everyday Eden continued WINGSPAN’s reputation for authored documentary. The BBC2 trilogy Ian Hislop’s Olden Days, exploring historiography, proved once again WINGSPAN’s ability to make entertaining but uncompromising primetime programmes about seemingly tricky subjects.
WINGSPAN's earlier award-winning productions include The Joy of Stats
with Hans Rosling, which won the Grierson 2011 Award for Best Science/ Natural History. One clip from the film was an unlikely viral sensation, topping the Youtube Xmas charts, whilst our next film with Hans, Don’t Panic – the Truth about Population
won an RTS. Ian Hislop: When Bankers Were Good
, a follow-up to Wingspan's critically acclaimed, high-rating series for BBC Two Ian Hislop's Age of the Do-Gooders
, won the Merit Award at the Sandford St Martin Awards in 2011. The following year Angelic Voices
, a feature-length portrait of the choristers of Salisbury Cathedral, was shortlisted for the same award. The Radio Times thought it “unmissable, exquisite and surprisingly moving”. Meanwhile, Richard Alwyn's trilogy of observational documentaries, Catholics,
was shortlisted as Best Documentary Series for a 2012 Grierson. Richard’s follow-up series Cathedrals
for BBC Four won similar plaudits.
Other successes include The Pendle Witch Child with Simon Armitage, an innovative combination of animation and presenter-led Specialist Factual. The Times called it “Brilliant…. If ever a programme could make the case for a channel this was it. Not just the strength of Armitage's performance but also the sheer originality of the presentation.” In Tails You Win – The Science of Chance, Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter introduced more than 800,000 BBC Four viewers to probability theory. Networks of Power, a six-part series for Sky Atlantic presented by Sir Christopher Meyer, shot in six great world cities, followed Getting Our Way, Meyer’s insider history series on British diplomacy, dubbed by the Mail “an unmissable champagne treat of a show.” And last – but by no means least – our fruitful relationship with Ian Hislop has also produced Ian Hislop’s Stiff Upper Lip (a cultural history of Brits and their emotions), Ian Hislop’s Changing of the Bard (about the poets laureate), Ian Hislop Goes Off the Rails (on Beeching’s cuts to the railways in the 1960s) and the Grierson-shortlisted Ian Hislop’s Scouting for Boys.
WINGSPAN welcomes strong, rigorous, focused ideas with scope for commission within the British or international broadcasting landscape.