Established UK television drama producers Lynda La Plante and Sophie Balhetchet have launched Cougar Films, an outfit geared towards the development and production of commercial features.

The company, which has started development on several projects, will also serve as an outlet for developing Balhetchet's future television projects. La Plante will continue to produce television through her existing company La Plante Productions.

"Feature film represents a new platform for us," said La Plante, "and we're looking forward to the freedom of producing fiction on a much bigger, more ambitious scale than either of us have previously had the opportunity to do."

La Plante's production credits include ITV drama series The Governor and five series of Trial And Retribution. US production credits include NBC's The Prosecutors, which she wrote and co-produced, and Bella Mafia, a four-hour mini-series for CBS adapted from her novel.

La Plante's other writing credits include Prime Suspect, BAFTA-nominated Widows, Civvies, Comics and Framed.

Sophie Balhetchet's credits include drama series The Manageress, WW2 drama The Camomile Lawn and The Peacock Spring.

Balhetchet also produced some of Channel 4's early programming including Peter Greenaway's A TV Dante and About Time. For the channel's Film On Four strand, Balhetchet produced Giro City and The Road Home.

Recently, she produced the feature Trance for Sky Pictures, and the acclaimed drama Men Only for Channel 4.

"Lynda and I believe that the best drama is invariably the result of a good story and an outstanding script," said Balhetchet. "Cougar will be the company which will allow us to identify and nurture fresh writing talent to produce strong, highly commercial feature films."