Get to know: Matchlight

Matchlight is a Glasgow-based, award-winning production company which has produced over 120 hours of high-end factual programming, primarily for the UK network channels. As the company is one of the first recipients of Screen Scotland’s new Broadcast Content Fund, we caught up with Managing Director, David Smith to learn more about Matchlight.

The Broadcast Content Fund is designed to support the sustainable growth of Scotland’s broadcast sector, encouraging the development of new projects, the scaling up of already successful activities and the production of commissioned programmes.

Chatting with David

Along with Creative Director, Ross Wilson and Development Director, Jacqui Hayden, David formed Matchlight in 2009. We asked about what they’re currently working on.

Headshot image of David Smith, Managing Director of Matchlight “We are currently editing the third series of The Highland Midwife for Channel 5 and we’re in post-production on Looking for Rembrandt, an arts series for the BBC in the UK and NTR in the Netherlands.”

Exploring challenges faced by pregnant women who live in rural areas, each episode of The Highland Midwife covers different stories of expectant mothers from across the Highlands and Grampians.

Looking for Rembrandt is a 3-part series that sets out to reveal the answers behind the mysteries and shadows lurking in the Dutch artist, Rembrandt’s life on the 350th anniversary of the year of his death.

“It’s a boxset approach to arts, all about Rembrandt, his life and work and the after-life of his paintings. We made it with the full co-operation of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. We think it’s really special – so do the BBC.

Image of Sarah Moore standing in front of a green backdropSarah Moore from 'Our Lives: The Island That Saved My Life'

We asked David about how Matchlight support talent development.

“We are working with TRC on the rad diversity programme and with Street League, helping people gain experience in TV production at an early stage in their careers before they go to college or university.”

TRC’s ‘rad’ is a new training programme for diverse talent looking to start a career in the television industry, aimed at groups who are typically under-represented in the TV industry. Street League is the UK’s leading sport for employment charity, working against youth unemployment in the UK.

Matchlight is a signatory of the Cultural Diversity Network Pledge. The Cultural Diversity Network is committed to raising awareness about cultural and other diversities and their importance for society’s health and economic development.

“For every project, we think about how the editorial can reflect diversity… As an Invernessian brought up on a council estate in a Scottish traveller family, social mobility is important to me.”

David spoke about the positive impact of the Broadcast Content Fund on Matchlight’s business.

“It’s already enabled us to look to new markets and to develop relationships with broadcasters outside of the UK in particular.”

"Social mobility is important"

“For every project, we think about how the editorial can reflect diversity… As an Invernessian brought up on a council estate in a Scottish traveller family, social mobility is important to me.”

David Smith, Managing Director of Matchlight

More about Matchlight

Since it was founded in 2009 by Ross Wilson, David Smith and Jacqui Hayden, Matchlight has produced over 120 hours of high-end factual programming, primarily for the UK network channels, from its Glasgow base.

Matchlight has been identified by the BBC as a key Scottish supplier to the network; making singles and series for BBC Two and BBC Four and is the only Scottish independent company to regularly make programmes for BBC One network. Channel 5 has also become a regular source of commissions, with Series 3 of The Highland Midwife due to air in Spring 2019.

Award wins for Matchlight include Afghanistan: The Great Game (BAFTA Scotland 2012, Best Factual Series); Ted Hughes: Stronger than Death (Celtic Media Festival 2016, Best Arts); My Baby, Psychosis and Me (MIND Media Awards 2016, Best Documentary); Scotland and the Klan (Royal Television Society Awards 2017, Best History); My Baby, Psychosis and Me (Royal Television Society, 2017, Best Documentary).

Learn more about Matchlight on their website at http://www.matchlight.co.uk/home.aspx. You can watch Looking for Rembrandt on BBC Four at 9pm on Tuesdays 16 and 23 April and on BBC iPlayer.