Legendary Entertainment, Emma Frost, Matthew Graham Launch Watford & Essex With 10-Project Slate

Naman Ramachandran
·3-min read

Legendary Entertainment and “The White Queen” and “Life on Mars” writers/showrunners Emma Frost and Matthew Graham have launched a U.K. drama production company with a slate of 10 projects.

Frost and Graham, whose credits include “Ashes to Ashes,” “The Spanish Princess,” “Doctor Who” and “The Man In The High Castle,” will serve as joint CEOs of Watford & Essex, which will team with Legendary Entertainment’s television division and focus on television production and financing projects for the international market.

Christine Healy has been named COO, joining the venture from New Pictures where she was head of production since 2016.

Watford & Essex’s current list of projects in development include “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” based on
the Irwin Allen television series from the 1960s, developed and written by BAFTA-nominated Chris Lunt and Michael Walker (“Devils”), and “Hail Satan!,” a dark social comedy-drama created by Frost and Graham, in development with U.K. broadcaster Channel 4.

The slate also includes “Championess,” based on Legendary Comics’ upcoming graphic novel created by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas, set in the male-dominated world of bareknuckle boxing in 18th-century London, where a half-Indian daughter of an immigrant trains to become the best female fighter in the city.

Watford & Essex’s female-driven narratives also include “Roxana,” based on Daniel Defoe’s 1724 novel “Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress,” where the protagonist must use her wits after being left penniless with five children, adapted by Frost; and “Matilda,” a political adventure series created by Graham.

Also in the works are a contemporary thriller from BAFTA-winning Stephen Butchard (“Baghdad Central”); an original project from BAFTA-nominated Rob Williams (“The Victim”); “Heat,” a supernatural young adult drama set on a London housing estate, created by Sian Ejiwunmi-Le Berre; “The Alice,” a family medical drama set in Australia, created by Ashley Pharoah (“Wild at Heart”); and “Amazonia,” an environmental thriller from International Emmy winner Misha Glenny (“McMafia”), BBC broadcaster and journalist Kirsty Lang, and Robert Muggah and Ilona Szabo of the Rio-based Igarapé Institute.

“It is such a treat for us to be in partnership with Legendary on this new adventure,” said Frost and Graham. “With Legendary’s success, talent and experience behind us, we’re confident that we can make some great, hit shows and have a blast doing it. TV continues to enjoy a golden age of creative diversity and risk. We’ve always enjoyed pushing the envelope in terms of bold and genre-bending ideas, and Legendary has always put fearless creativity at the centre of their business. These two styles can only grow and develop with this new company.”

“We are thrilled to launch this new venture with Emma and Matthew, who have proven time and time again to be masterful storytellers, and to develop a slate of international projects that foster diversity and nurture both young and accomplished creative talent alike,” said Chris Albrecht, managing director of Legendary Television.

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