Brendan Dahill joins Essential Media

Brendan Dahill

Former ABC, BBC Worldwide and Keo Films Australia executive Brendan Dahill has joined Essential Media Group (EMG) as general manager and executive producer for Australia and New Zealand, a newly-created position.

Since leaving Keo Films he has run Gordian Media, a production company which launched in 2017 and became a joint venture with NBCUniversal and Matchbox Pictures in February.

As MD of Keo Films, which closed its Australian office in 2017, he oversaw productions including documentary series War on Waste for the ABC and factual and entertainment shows River Cottage Australia for Foxtel/SBS, Struggle Street for SBS and Bullied for the ABC.

He spent seven years at the ABC where he served as head of non-scripted productions, head of network programming and channel controller of ABC1.

Before that he was director of television at BBC Worldwide Australasia and he had stints at the BBC, ITV and UKTV in the UK and Discovery Channel Europe.

Dahill formed Gordian Media with his wife Lucy Dahill as head of production with a focus on non-scripted productions including factual, documentaries, entertainment and arts.

In his new role he oversees Essential’s scripted and factual production in Australia and New Zealand. He reports to Essential Media CEO Chris Hilton, who said: “We are very excited to welcome Brendan to the Essential Media Group. With his boundless energy, deep knowledge of content and extensive network of friends in the industry he’s a great addition to our team.”

Dahill was approached by Hilton and EMG chief operating officer and executive producer Greg Quail several months ago. “When I set up Gordian Media I wanted to give it a go for two years,” he tells IF. “Then I thought, ‘Essential is a great company and I get to play in the scripted space again.’

“Chris and Greg are focused on expansion and new markets so I can focus on the home market. I am looking forward to working with the talented team here to create great shows and tell amazing Australian stories to the rest of the world.”

He will continue to develop two comedies, The Middle Man with Josh Lawson, and another with Rob Carlton. Meanwhile Gordian Media is producing a documentary with New Zealand’s Imagination TV and developing shows with several Australian production companies.

Earlier this year Essential Media announced its return to producing premium international drama for the small and big screen via Essential Scripted, with Michelle Hardy as vice president of scripted, Australia, while Simonne Overend continues as VP of scripted, US.

Essential Scripted is developing shows with a raft of creatives including Yolanda Ramke and Chris Squadrito. “We have a lot of great projects which broadcasters are excited about,” Dahill said. “The Australian market is definitely a challenge. A vibrant and healthy ABC is good for the entire industry.

“We are in a period of flux where you have to adjust to the new normal or not. There are plenty of opportunities out there.”

EMG was formed by the merger of Essential Media and Entertainment and Quail Entertainment and acquired by Canada’s Kew Media for an initial payment of $32.8 million in cash and shares.