The streamer’s head of unscripted originals in the UK, whose past credits include Leaving Neverland and David Beckham-produced Premier League series Rise of the Billionaires, will become Creative Director at the All3Media-owned production outfit, replacing Tom Watt-Smith but with a wider remit.
Pearl has spent the past six years at Paramount UK, where he has overseen a wealth of factual shows first for Paramount UK network Channel 5 and latterly Paramount+ – leading the charge on the streamer’s UK unscripted push. Credits for Paramount+ include Rise of the Billionaires, serial killer series The Box and reality show Hot Yachts. For Channel 5, he oversaw big factual beasts such as Our Yorkshire Farm.
Pearl is a UK unscripted vet, having spent the six years before Paramount/Channel 5 in various current affairs roles with Channel 4, and the 15 years before that at the BBC.
Lion will be his first role on the other side of the broadcaster-producer fence and shows coming up include a BBC documentary on Pompeii and a Netflix docu-drama about Alexander the Great. Lion also makes long-runners like CBBC’s Horrible Histories and has recently produced Netflix shows including Sexy Beast and Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb. He replaces Watt-Smith, who moved to Welcome to Earth with Will Smith indie Nutopia earlier this year, but will have a wider remit due to his past experience.
Lion, which also has a U.S. hub from where it produces Bravo’s Cash Cab, has undergone plenty of structural change recently. Earlier this year, it pivoted focus to specialist, premium factual and kids TV while forging a popular factual division with All3Media stablemates Lion Television and Wise Owl Films. Lime bosses Kate Little and Claire Poyser oversee the three indies.
“Lion has a global reputation as a producer of some of the world’s most popular, intelligent programming and is perfectly positioned for the current demand for new and exciting unscripted franchises,” said Pearl.
Richard Bradley, Lion co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, lauded an “outstanding track record in unscripted programming, amazing editorial and creative judgement,” adding: “It makes for perfect synergy with our continued focus on creating high quality compelling stories which celebrate the human and natural world.”
Ben Frow, Pearl’s boss at Paramount UK, said he had “been a brilliant member of the commissioning team and played an important part in the transformation of Channel 5.”