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The Independent UK
The Independent UK

Behind the curtain: meet the brains behind one of the UK’s most innovative TV production companies

Courtesy of Content Kings

Content Kings is a Business Reporter client.

Content Kings co-founders Jonathan Levi and Gavin Hay are the driving force behind the company’s meteoric rise in the world of entertainment. With an impressive portfolio of groundbreaking shows and a reputation for crafting thought-provoking content that resonates across the globe, we look at how their unique skillset and creative prowess has resulted in multiple awards and a roster of TV shows across global markets.

Content Kings is one of the UK’s most exciting and innovative production companies, making programmes for top broadcasters and online platforms. Since opening its doors for business in 2020, Content Kings has worked both on and off screen with some of the world’s biggest names in entertainment, including Neale Whitaker and Ed Westwick.

Gavin Hay and Jonathan Levi originally joined forces thanks to their complementary skills, extensive expertise and vast industry network. This collaboration has empowered them to consistently create premium content across digital, TV and film. Their impressive portfolio includes some of the UK’s most prominent shows, and now they’re set to take the magic to the United Arab Emirates with the upcoming launch of the second Content Kings office in Dubai, with the new appointment of Darren Arturi as Director - Middle East and Asia Operations. Their first project is with a major US star.

Dream Team: Jonathan and Gavin originally joined forces thanks to their complementary skills, extensive expertise and vast industry networks
— (Courtesy of Content Kings)

Dividing Content Kings into three main divisions – television, feature films and branded content – the duo has carved a niche in each area, producing content for global audiences.

One of the hallmarks of Content Kings’s success is its ability to create primetime content that leaves a lasting impact. Its impressive track record includes collaborations with major channels such as ITV, Channel 5, Paramount + and Sky History.

CEO Gavin Hay, who started Brighter Pictures in 1992 and later sold it to Endemol for a reported £10 million, shares his vision for Content Kings: “We are storytellers with a passion for both entertainment and enlightenment,” he says. “Our mission is to craft, shape and deliver premium content with a global reach that speaks to diverse audiences.

“We have a profound focus on real-life, emotionally charged human narratives. Our viewers are inherently inquisitive and intellectually curious. Whether it’s our historical and specialist factual programs such as Secrets of the Lost Liners or the poignant Princess Diana documentary we produced on the 25th anniversary of her passing that sold to 25 territories, we consistently strive to engage our audience with thought-provoking content. These are universal themes that transcend borders, resonating equally in Africa, the Middle East, or right here in the UK and Europe.”

Gavin Hay, CEO, Content Kings
— (Courtesy of Content Kings)
Jonathan Levi, Managing Director, Content Kings
— (Courtesy of Content Kings)

The duo was attracted to expanding into the UAE as it is a magnet for talent and investment from all over the world. They recognise a significant opportunity to infuse vitality into the UAE’s more corporate, commercial style of content. Content Kings aspires to introduce broadcast-quality storytelling and entertainment, heralding a pioneering approach to content creation and programme making in the region. One of their first commissions is a major entertainment show to be filmed in Saudi Arabia at the end of January 2024.

“The traditional thing for a UK production company might be to look over to the US and to set up in New York or LA, but those ponds feel very overfished,” says Managing Director Jonathan Levi, whose credits include ITV’s Broadmoor, Hatton Garden starring Timothy Spall, and Tulisa: The Price of Fame. “A lot of people have done that over the years, and there aren’t so many people looking east. It felt really exciting to us to build an infrastructure and forge fresh relationships, enabling us to extend our reputation for producing excellent content across genres to a brand-new audience within the Arabic and Middle Eastern region.”

The upcoming months and the outlook for 2024 promise to be a thrilling and busy period for Content Kings. With numerous projects in various stages, including an eight-part history series for Channel 5, a six-part series for Sky History, a three-part consumer series and a feature documentary for a major UK broadcaster. Content Kings is also engaged in funded development with Channel 4 for a new reality series, while series two of Secrets of the Lost Liners is already in the works. The production company is also working on an access documentary about a prominent comedian, delving into themes such as cancel culture, class, and the world of comedy.

But it’s not just the mainstream this dynamic duo can produce, they also have a new digital, first series for Crime and Investigation. Levi comments: “We have a wealth of experience in crime and investigation formats, but working in digital brings a whole new level of storytelling and the opportunity to explore uncharted narratives and reach niche audiences without the constraints of mainstream television.”

Content Kings is one to watch, with its ability to mould the future of entertainment through a distinct fusion of creativity, storytelling and rapport with audiences across the globe.

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