Former Channel 5, Sky 1 and Living controller Richard Woolfe has resurfaced at post house Prime Focus, where he will spearhead the business’ move into production.

Woolfe has been appointed creative director of Prime Focus Productions, and will work alongside managing director and ex-Mob Films exec Rod Brown, who joined in March. The pair have been charged with developing entertainment and high-end dramas for broadcasters around the world.

They have previously worked together on shows including an adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather when Woolfe was director of programmes at Sky 1.

Woolfe, who last worked in production a decade ago at Planet 24, said his time on “both sides of the table” would inform his approach to development and pitching. He said he was looking to create “genre-busting” programmes for the new division.

“I talked to a lot of people during my time off and realised two things were most important to me: great people and a challenge,” he said. “This a virtual start-up and I’ve come in to make it work, but the idea is king. If we go in to a pitch with a killer idea, and great talent behind it, the rest is easy.”

Woolfe is returning to TV after a nine-month hiatus, having left Channel 5 as part of a wide-ranging job cuts imposed by incoming boss Richard Desmond.

Prime Focus Productions’ current developments include Department 13, a Cold War-era spy thriller starring David Jason being co-produced with STV, and Good Omens, written by Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, which is being worked up with STV and US producer Shoreline Entertainment.

With Woolfe on board, the company will also develop an entertainment slate comprising “big new shows that push boundaries”, with Woolfe’s work on Gladiators, Ross Kemp On Gangs and acquisitions such as Queer Eye For The Straight Guy setting the tone.

“That is the sort of area I’m drawn to naturally, but it needs to be something that could fly around the world,” Woolfe said.

Prime Focus’s global headquarters are in Mumbai, where it was founded in 1997. The group now employs almost 3,500 people, with offices in locations such as Vancouver, New York and LA. Its main focus is on India, the UK and US.

Prime would not reveal whether Woolfe is being given a stake in the company, but said his remuneration was “not purely money”.

Prime Focus Productions has also hired Lynn Lugsden as commercial director, poaching her from Tiger Aspect, where she was commercial manager.

This story was originally published by Broadcast.