Malcolm Gerrie - Chief Executive, WhizzKid Entertainment
Malcolm Gerrie has played a central role in defining the parameters of entertainment, music and events on television around the world. His early credits include The Tube, Channel 4’s legendary show from Newcastle Upon Tyne – his home town, which totally re-invigorated live music TV when it launched in the 1980s. It famously gave Madonna her first ever UK TV appearance and launched the careers of Paula Yates and Jools Holland. Gerrie subsequently followed this up with The White Room, which had a similar impact on the genre in the first half of the 90s.
His career began in 1971 as a school teacher and following a surprise success with his local dramatisation of the rock opera “Tommy” he left teaching and moved to Tyne Tees Television in Newcastle and became a researcher, a presenter and ultimately a producer. He was approached by the then head of Channel 4, Jeremy Isaacs, with a desperate plea: “I need a music show – make it live and give it balls, Gerrie!”.
And thus The Tube was born, which was to change the face of the North East of England and music on television forever.
In 1987 an opportunity to move to London to work with his mentor and friend Andrea Wonfor at Zenith was one too good to miss and together they produced a raft of shows including Island 25 – the history of Island Records.
In 1988 Malcolm joined forces with Eric Fellner at Initial Pictures. He didn’t miss a creative beat and, amongst a large body of work, he produced Wired for Channel 4, Smile Jamaica (Hurricane Gilbert fundraising concert), a ground-breaking series for MTV America called Buzz, The Three Tenors, Red Hot and Blue, Live At The Lighthouse, Mojo Working (a history of the Blues) and U2’s Zooropa. The company also produced award-winning dramas including the BAFTA winning Frankie’s House, Seaforth, The Hawk and Spender.
1992 saw Eric and Malcolm playing to their respective strengths with Eric’s move to Working Title Films and Malcolm taking the Initial brand to the Guardian Media Group’s television division Broadcast Communications.
For eight years he was the creative drive behind Initial’s production of The Brit Awards, which transformed the event into one of the largest and most respected music awards ceremonies in the world. Other award shows which he has produced include The Orange BAFTA Film Awards, The UK Music Hall of Fame, Miss World and The Q Awards.
Gerrie also brought production values and innovation to music projects as varied as Glastonbury, U2 at Red Rocks, Fame Academy, The Voice, Queen at Wembley Stadium, Bjork at The Royal Opera House and Beat Route for the BBC.
Gerrie has also been involved in a huge number of major charity initiatives. He worked on both the Band Aid and Live 8 projects and produced Live At The Lighthouse, Soccer Aid, Red Hot and Blue, Amnesty: We Know Where You Live, Fashion Rocks, Comic Relief Does Fame Academy, Help! for War Child, Party In The Park and Nelson Mandela’s 46664 amongst many others.
Gerrie pioneered the drive into advertiser-funded programming beginning with The Pepsi Chart Show for Channel 5 and followed soon after were projects for Smirnoff, Mattel and Lynx and most recently for ITV, Orange Playlist.
Recognising the changing face of prime-time entertainment Gerrie steered Initial into multi-genre programming with hits such as Fame Academy for the BBC, The Match for Sky 1 and Soccer Aid featuring Robbie Williams for ITV. The Match became one of the highest rated shows on Sky and helped re-define the genre of sports-entertainment.
Programmes such as John Lennon’s Jukebox (South Bank Show), Bob Marley: Time Will Tell, Isle of Wight Festival: Message To Love, Concerto amongst others won awards and critical acclaim. Initial also enjoyed considerable success in the area of kids programmes and teen drama and by 2005 had become a major player in this genre. Most notably Miami 7 and LA7 featuring the band S Club 7 became a ratings smash both here and abroad and saw Fox Networks embrace both the series and help break the band in the US. Following this Channel 4 commissioned 26 half hours of Totally Frank a cutting-edge drama series featuring the girl band Frank.
Initial Kids other credits include programmes for CITV, Sky, Discovery Kids, Disney, BBC3 & CBBC including the Saturday morning show Mighty Truck of Stuff. In September 2000 he was inducted onto The Music Manager’s Forum British Music Roll of Honour. In 2006, he decided that it was time, ‘to rip it up and start again’ and thus Whizz Kid Entertainment was born.
Whizz Kid Entertainment is owned jointly by Malcolm Gerrie and Ingenious Media Active Capital Limited.
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