UK satellite operator BSkyB has bolstered staff at feature arm Sky Pictures and unveiled John Irvin's contemporary thriller The Fourth Angel, one of its biggest projects to date.
Sky has appointed Emma Berkofsky and Chris Brock to the newly-created roles of head of development and senior business and legal affairs executive respectively. Berkofsky was formerly head of development at London-based Alchymie and British Screen Finance, while Brock joins from the legal affairs department at 20th Century Fox in the US.
Sky has also boarded The Fourth Angel, starring Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons, Forest Whitaker, Charlotte Rampling, Elizabeth McGovern and Jason Priestly. The adaptation of Robin Hunter's novel is at the top end of Sky's budget range of $3m-$10m, with more similar-sized productions to follow.
Producing duties on the Rafford Films and Norstar Filmed Entertainment production fall to Allan Scott, who is also writing the script, and Peter Simpson. Peter Elson's Global Cinema group will handle international sales.
Sky is also stepping up the production of TV event movies under Jamie Roberts, who moved to the film arm earlier this year. Comedian Martin Clunes is to star in TV film franchise Doc Martin, which is being made for Sky Television and UK-based international sales outfit Portman Entertainment.
The franchise will consist of six stand-alone TV movies based on Clunes' character Dr Bamford in Sky's recent feature production Saving Grace. The first two instalments will be produced by Philippa Braithwaite and Clunes' Buffalo Pictures and written by There's Only One Jimmy Grimble's Simon Mayle.
Mark Crowdy, co-writer and producer of Saving Grace, will act as script editor. Production is scheduled to start this spring in Cornwall.