ITV buys £18m studio behind 24 Hours in A&E

ITV has snapped up the studio behind Channel 4’s 24 Hours in A&E, the latest acquisition for the broadcaster as it ramps up its production arm.

The FTSE 100 firm said yesterday it had agreed to pay at least £18m for The Garden, which also produces Channel 4’s The Audience and BBC 2’s Inside Claridge’s.

The purchase is the latest in a spree of acquisitions by chief executive Adam Crozier, whose five-year plan involves turning ITV’s Studios arm into a production powerhouse that can sell shows around the world.

The division is already behind international hits including Titanic, Mr Selfridge and Come Dine With Me, and Crozier has recently invested in buying Finnish studio Tarinatalo and a majority stake in US producer Gurney.

“A key focus for ITV is to develop hit programmes which we can then export globally and The Garden already has an impressive track record,” the head of ITV Studios, Kevin Lygo, said. “Its flagship title – 24 Hours in A&E – is not only a hit for Channel 4, but has sold to nearly 100 territories around the world.”

The Garden was founded in 2010 by British producers Nick Curwin and Magnus Temple, who sold the Dragonfly production company to News Corporation’s Shine Group in 2007. It made an operating profit of £2.5m in 2012, and will be hoping to boost that, since the final cost of ITV’s acquisition will centre on profitability over the next five years.

In a joint statement, Curwin and Temple said: “Being part of ITV will help us grow further in the UK and, in particular, to achieve our international ambitions.

“We will be working more closely with ITV Studios whilst continuing to concentrate as hard as ever on our important relationships with Channel 4 and the BBC. We are both totally committed to this new venture and we look forward to many successful and exciting years ahead with our new partners.”