Sky Studios, Production Arm of European Pay-TV Giant, Sets Contingency Plans for Second COVID Spike

“This has been a hell of a year,” Gary Davey, CEO of Sky Studios, the production arm of Comcast-owned European pay-TV operator Sky, said Wednesday, contemplating the carnage caused by COVID. Davey said it was “the most challenging year” he’d had since 1985, the year he launched Sky Channel.

Sky Studios, which was set up a year ago, had to close down 29 productions because of the pandemic, and has so far managed to get nine back into production. The company is now making contingency plans just in case there is a spike in COVID infections later this year.

Davey, who was on a Zoom call with members of the U.K.’s Broadcasting Press Guild, alongside Jane Millichip, Sky Studios’ chief commercial officer, said the order in which shows are being put back into production is primarily driven by their delivery dates and the needs of the programming schedule.

Comedies have gone back into production first and in September some of the upscale drama productions, like “Britannia” and “A Discovery of Witches,” would also resume their shoots.

The company isn’t dropping its guard though, and is being “cautious” just in case there is “a second wave of COVID,” Davey said. “It’s been a really interesting exercise to rethink the editorial of all of the shows, especially the bigger shows. So, for example, we have rethought the number of episodes, and had a good look at the editorial to figure out if there were a crisis is there a way of rounding the story out early.”

“So if it is a 10-episode production is there a way of managing the script in such a way that if you had to could you get out after six [episodes]?”

Davey paid credit to his colleagues at the company. “Sky is at its best when everybody pitches in in a difficult situation,” he said.

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