PLAYGROUND Strengthens UK Team as Melissa Gallant Joins as Creative Director and Sophie Gardiner Becomes Executive Creative Director | The Fan Carpet

PLAYGROUND Strengthens UK Team as Melissa Gallant Joins as Creative Director and Sophie Gardiner Becomes Executive Creative Director


15 May 2017

Creative Director Sophie Gardiner has been upped to Head of Drama, Executive Creative Director.

Joining Playground as Creative Director is Melissa Gallant, formerly Head of Development at Fifty Fathoms where she worked across an extensive slate with a number of the UK's top writing talents.

Leading drama producer Playground has restructured and bolstered its UK executive team to support its growing slate of productions. Creative Director Sophie Gardiner has been upped to Head of Drama, Executive Creative Director.

Gardiner will oversee Playground’s growing UK television production and development slate - most recently including Academy Award-winning screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan’s adaptation of Howards End for the BBC and Starz, King Lear starring Anthony Hopkins for the BBC, and the recently announced adaptation of Little Women by Heidi Thomas for the BBC and Masterpiece on PBS which is slated to begin principal photography this July.

Joining Playground as Creative Director is Melissa Gallant, formerly Head of Development at Fifty Fathoms where she worked across an extensive slate with a number of the UK's top writing talents. Previously, Melissa was at Tiger Aspect working in both development and production on a number of series including the RTS award- winning Peaky Blinders, Robin Hood and the BAFTA-nominated re-launch of Murphy's Law and prior to that at ITV as Series Editor of The Bill.

Katie Draper, formerly a Senior Development Executive at Playground, has been promoted to Creative Director alongside Gallant. Prior to working at Playground, Katie worked as a development executive at Kudos and in development and production at Tiger Aspect, where her credits included BAFTA-nominated series My Mad Fat Diary and the RTS award-winning Peaky Blinders.

“Good story telling has never felt more important and I’m thrilled to have such a strong team with Melissa and Katie spearheading our upcoming development slate.” said Gardiner. “By expanding our creative team we hope to continue to deliver on our ambition to make Playground a home for the best writing talent, both established and new, from television, theatre and film.”

Sophie Gardiner left Channel 4 to become the Creative Director of Playground Television at the end of 2014. Whilst a Commissioning Editor for Drama at the channel, she commissioned some of the most distinctive dramas of recent years – The Mill, Run, Southcliffe, Utopia, Dates, Youngers, Glue, and My Mad Fat Diary. Prior to her time at Channel 4 she had been a freelance producer on work ranging from Eureka Street – a 4-parter for BBC2 written by Donna Franceschild, to The Battle of Orgreave – a film directed by Mike Figgis with Turner-prize winning artist Jeremy Deller. She created and executive produced Sinbad, a multi-million pound series for Sky whilst working at Impossible Pictures, before leaving to go to Channel 4.

About Playground
Playground is a New York and London based television, film and theatre production company founded in 2012 by Emmy, BAFTA, Tony, Olivier and Golden Globe award-winning producer Colin Callender. It is committed to producing smart, entertaining drama for the screen and the stage bringing together the finest US and UK talent from the worlds of theatre, film, and television.

Playground has produced over 50 hours of prime time television drama garnering 15 Emmy nominations, 20 BAFTA nominations, and 12 Golden Globe nominations, including a Golden Globe win for Best Miniseries. Recent productions include the Emmy-nominated and BAFTA, Golden Globe and Peabody Award winning miniseries Wolf Hall starring Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis and Claire Foy for the BBC and Masterpiece, the RTS winning and BAFTA-nominated television adaptation of Ronald Harwood’s The Dresser starring Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins and directed by Richard Eyre for the BBC and Starz, and The White Princess a limited series for Starz drawn from the bestselling book by Philippa Gregory. Playground is currently in production on Academy Award winner Kenneth Lonergan’s adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic novel Howards End starring Hayley Atwell, Matthew Macfadyen and Tracey Ullman, and directed by Hettie Macdonald for the BBC and Starz, and in pre-production on Heidi Thomas’s adaptation of Little Women for the BBC and Masterpiece on PBS.

Playground’s recent theatre productions on Broadway include: Nora Ephron’s Tony-nominated Lucky Guy directed by George C. Wolfe starring Tom Hanks in his Broadway debut, Harvey Fierstein’s Tony-nominated Casa Valentina directed by Joe Mantello, the Tony award-winning revival of musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Jez Butterworth’s The River directed by Ian Rickson starring Hugh Jackman, Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford’s critically acclaimed groundbreaking production of Macbeth at The Park Avenue Armory in New York, and John Tiffany’s The Glass Menagerie in the West End. Playground is currently represented on Broadway with Dear Evan Hansen, and on the West End, in partnership with Sonia Friedman Productions, on Casey Nicholaw’s Dreamgirls, and the hit play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which recently won a record-breaking 9 Olivier Awards.

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