In 2019 we entered our second year and the agency continued to grow apace, with several transformational new developments. In March we welcomed the client list of top broadcast agency Sue Rider Management, and at the same time we moved to our new offices in Soho – complete with an oasis of a roof terrace which went down very well with our clients and buyers over the summer months.
Later in the spring we launched Northbank Speakers, headed up by experienced corporate agent Tom Copson who joined us from Sue Rider Management, under the guidance of our non-exec director Alex Hickman, founder and previously CEO of Chartwell Speakers Bureau. Northbank Speakers has quickly become a cornerstone of our business, with many of our existing broadcast and literary clients securing talks around the world, and new clients joining with speaking foremost in their mind.
Our books business goes from strength to strength. We were joined in April by ace fiction agent Hannah Weatherill who speaks multiple languages and has an unrivalled knowledge of the international fiction market, meaning that we can form a global strategy for our clients at the outset, selling rights directly in all languages and working closely with our books-to-screen agent James Carroll. On that note, our book-to-screen licensing was up 350% on 2018, a highlight being Amazon Prime’s greenlight of Mafia Princess by Marisa Merico. We’re now selling book-to-screen rights on behalf of other literary agencies too – and James was named as one of Broadcast Magazine’s Hot Shots of 2019.
Sterling work was done in selling non-fiction book rights, headed up by Martin Redfern. Strangeways by Neil Samworth debuted in the Sunday Times Top 10 non-fiction paperback bestseller list; William Collins announced the forthcoming publication of Black Holes by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw in the days following the first-ever photograph of a black hole; Extra Time by Camilla Cavendish was published to critical acclaim, including high-profile reviews in The Times, the Sunday Times and serialisation in the Daily Mail. In August, Inside Broadmoor by Jonathan Levi and Emma French debuted in the Sunday Times Top 10 non-fiction paperback bestseller list and in October The Killing in the Consulate by Jonathan Rugman was published to stellar reviews, including by John Le Carré who described the book as ‘reporting at its best’. The year ended with publication of May at 10 by Anthony Seldon accompanied by a major serialisation in The Times, resulting in several days of headlines and strongly influencing the news agenda in the days leading up to the calling of the general election. The book was picked in several Books of the Year roundups. Finally, during 2019, Northbank negotiated two book deals for veteran broadcaster and commentator Iain Dale. Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? will be published by HarperCollins in June 2020, and The Prime Ministers will be published by Hodder & Stoughton in November 2020.
Audio was a big area for us in 2019, with Kevin Fong – who was awarded the OBE for services to science, medicine and healthcare in the Queen’s Birthday Honours – BBC podcast 13 Minutes to the Moon winning Best Factual Podcast 2019 at the AIB Awards, and Silver in the Audio category at the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards. New Stripped Media projects included companion podcast His Darker Materials hosted by Spotify, The Bake Down and the latest season of The Wire Stripped. We launched William Hanson’s podcast Help I Sexted My Boss as a live tour, and on that note, were delighted to secure Iain Dale a show at the Edinburgh Fringe, Iain Dale All Talk, during which he interviewed 24 politicians, former politicians and commentators, to be repeated in 2020.
We had election night covered, with Nimco Ali (who also received the OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, for services to tackling female genital mutilation and gender inequality) and Raoul Ruparel on ITV and Iain Dale hosting for LBC; and then the year ended on a high with Hannah Fry delivering the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, Secrets and Lies: The Hidden Power of Maths. Her warm presenting style enthralled children – and adults too – across the nation, showing how maths is part of our everyday lives.
We have many more exciting plans for 2020 and look forward to working with you all as we continue to grow. In the meantime, we wish you a very Happy New Year!
Diane Banks is Founder & Chief Executive of Northbank Talent Management.