End of an era as Screentime co-founder Bob Campbell retires

Crownies - crew

Bob Campbell.

Screentime executive chairman Bob Campbell has retired from the production company he co-founded with Des Monaghan 23 years ago.

That marks the end of an era at the company best known for the Underbelly franchise, Pine Gap, Wolf Creek, Cloudstreet, Janet King and ANZAC Girls as well as light entertainment fare such as Anh’s Brush with Fame, RBT, Hughesy, We Have a Problem and The Secret Life of Four Year Olds.

The co-founders sold a controlling stake to French-based entertainment giant Banijay in 2012 and Monaghan stepped down as executive chairman in 2014.

Campbell departed before the completion of Banijay’s takeover of the Endemol Shine Group (ESG), which will create one of the world’s biggest independent production and distribution banners with a catalogue of 85,000 hours.

Rory Callaghan will continue to run Screentime as CEO. In an unrelated move, Screentime executive producer Johnny Lowry has been promoted to head of non-scripted, where he’s overseen Anh’s Brush With Fame, Hughesy, We Have A Problem, Trial By Kyle, The Driving Test, Orange Is The New Brown and the upcoming SAS Who Dares Wins.

“Screentime has exceeded all the expectations Des and I had for it 23 years ago when we set it up,” Campbell tells IF. “It has been built on the hard work and creativity of a lot of people, as well as great partnerships with our shareholders. Under Rory’s leadership, I have every confidence of Screentime’s continued success.”

The Nine Network’s co-head of drama Andy Ryan tells IF: “Under Bob’s leadership, Screentime became one of the most successful drama producers in the country. Bob was instrumental in bringing the Underbelly franchise to the screen in 2008 and it’s fitting that one of Bob’s final productions with Screentime, Informer 3838, will revisit many of these original Underbelly characters.

“Bob has also been a great contributor to the wider industry and there are few people with a deeper knowledge of industry practice and policy.

“On a personal level, Bob has always been a beacon of calm and focus and a joy to work with. He has left a great legacy and I speak for everyone at Nine in wishing Bob every success and happiness in his life beyond Screentime.”

Johnny Lowry.

Lowry said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Screentime Banijay over the last four years and I look forward to further contributing to its ongoing success.”

There is no clarity yet over who will run the combined Screentime/ESG business in Australia; the transaction is expected to close by mid-year.

ESG’s owners The Walt Disney Company, which picked up its stake as part of its buy-out of 21st Century Fox assets, and Apollo Global Management agreed to sell the firm to the Banijay Group for a reported $US2.2 billion.

Campbell spent eight years as CEO of the Seven Network before co-founding Screentime.