Belfast Telegraph

Addicts' Symphony is a TV breakthrough for Newry firm

By Margaret Canning

Newry film and TV production firm Big Mountain is presenting its first feature-length documentary on Channel 4 this week. Addicts' Symphony takes a look at the transcendental power of music by uniting 10 classical musicians whose lives have been affected by addiction, culminating in a one-off performance with the London Symphony Orchestra.

The documentary is hosted by composer and musician James McConnel, a recovering alcoholic whose talented musician son Freddy died of a heroin overdose aged 18. Freddy was friends with Peaches Geldof, who died of an overdose earlier this year.

Big Mountain is run by Philip McGovern and his wife Jane Kelly. They have a core team of 10 but also use up to 100 freelance crew. Mr McGovern said: "It's been exciting working with Channel 4 on our first big project for them.

"We love taking people through a real process with an authentic outcome."

Mrs Kelly added: "As an Irish company exporting internationally from our bases in Newry and Dundalk, this commission is another big coup for us and is testament to the opportunity there is for export-driven content companies.

"We've already had interest from broadcasters in other territories about doing something similar.

"We love creating compelling content that has universal themes and global appeal, that tells stories we can all relate to, wherever we are."

Big Mountain specialises in developing formatted TV shows which can be developed around the world, while retaining the rights to the programmes. In 2012 it won funding of nearly £90,000 from Northern Ireland Screen towards a total investment of around £480,000.

Last year, it sold the format of its family history Genealogy Roadshow to US public service broadcaster PBS. RTE has broadcast the show to Irish audiences.

Addicts' Symphony will be aired on Channel 4 at 11pm on Wednesday.

Belfast Telegraph