Award winning Chorley director sets up new TV production company

A TV director and producer from Chorley has set up his own production company with the help of two industry friends, and has produced a new series set to be broadcast on top streaming sites.

By James Holt
Friday, 27th August 2021, 4:41 pm

Mark Westcott, a former Southlands student who was raised in Chorley, braved the move to London and has since worked on many notable wilderness shows including Escape to the Legion with Bear Grylls and Man Versus Wild.

In the past, he has worked on award-winning and Bafta and Emmy nominated series and programmes for broadcasters including Channel 4, ITV, the BBC, Discovery Channel and National Geographic.

And along with Duncan Gaudin and Tom Boulting, the trio are now aiming high and pitching new ideas to bring to our screens with their new television production company Marshal Bishop.

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Chorley producer Mark (right) and colleague Duncan Gaudin (left)

The first of which was filmed at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, and is centered around three human and dog partnerships, following their journey trying to survive in the wilderness for 12 days.

Speaking about the project, Chorley-born Mark said: "Duncan and I met for the first time working on Escape the Legion with Bear Grylls in 2004. We got on so well and stayed in touch over the years and have worked together on many other projects.

"We would spend hours together sat around his kitchen table coming up with all sorts of ideas for shows and we wanted to do something about it to see them brought to life.

"One of the ideas seemed like such an obvious pairing between man and dog. You don't have to look far to see people out in the wilderness walking their dogs, and it seemed like a great idea for a new show.

Chorley born Mark has been working in TV since the early 90s

"We were introduced to ITV America, as the USA lends itself to this type of show, with it being a nation of animal lovers and extreme landscapes. Eventually, National Geographic picked it up and shot it during Covid - we couldn't even be on-site because of the restrictions."

Mark's career began in advertising and publishing, before going to work on a trade magazine for the TV industry.

He went on to meet a director and was first commissioned to produce a six-part series called the American Affair in the early 1990s.

He then worked for the BBC on flagship fashion programme 'The Clothes Show' before beginning work on wilderness programmes, including Man V Wild on Discovery, Mission: Survive on ITV and Bear Grylls: Survivor Games.

His experiences include working on-site on life-threatening survival programmes, including spending a month out in the Sahara desert for Bear Gryll's first-ever TV feature.

He added: "Growing up in Chorley I had the hills on my doorstep and spent a lot of time in the local landscapes walking and rock climbing. When I was out working, it seemed a million miles away from that, but I knew it was what I wanted to do.

"Some of the shows I have worked on have been brutal, demanding and risky. A lot of it has involved battling the elements, especially in survival programming.

"In 2022, we are hoping we will be busy and getting back out doing what we love on location. We want to get as many ideas out there as we can, because we realise not every show will be picked up.

"We are constantly coming up with new ideas and working on them hoping that someone else will love them as much as we do. It is a tough industry, just today we have been getting rejections for ideas we thought were sure winners.

"You never think people will say no - but there are times somebody will take a chance and the ball starts to roll from there. It is exhilarating when it goes your way, and we hope to work on many other projects over the coming years."

The company, which has offices in both London and Los Angeles, are also in talks about opening a northern office in Manchester, with Mark adding: "London is no longer the same hub for television, many companies are making the move back up north."

The company's first show, Called to the Wild, is set to broadcast on National Geographic and streaming site Disney+ later this year.

More information can be found on their website HERE.