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Jake Humphrey & David Coulthard’s TV production company forced to write off over £300k bad debt

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The TV production company co-founded by broadcaster Jake Humphrey and former F1 driver David Coulthard was forced into the red despite its turnover jumping, new documents have revealed.

Whisper Films, which was also set up by BAFTA-winning CEO Sunil Patel, said a bad debt write-off during its latest financial year denied it from achieving “significant growth” compared to the prior 12 months.

The business produces coverage of F1, international cricket, boxing, MMA, the women’s Super League, the Paralympics and e-sports.

The group comprises of live sports and non-scripted production company Whisper, Chapter 3 Graphics and East Media and secured the investment of Sony Pictures Television in February 2020.

Whisper, which recently announced that it will continue to produce Channel 4’s F1 coverage until 2026, has operations in London, Cardiff, Maidenhead and Salford.

For the year to March 31, 2023, Whisper Films posted a pre-tax loss of £334,682 compared to a profit of £624,646 in the prior 12 months.

However, its turnover jumped from £46.3m to £57.4m over the same period.

The average number of people it employed during the year also rose from 153 to 232.

Bad debt write-off

A statement signed off by the board said: “This year has seen a return on investment in the unscripted market with Ridiculous (East Entertainment Media) commissioned and delivered for ITV and a second series commissioned for 2023/24.

“Whisper North continues to grow and has two series commissioned for ITV in 2023/24, reinvesting two classic global formats.

“Chapter 3 Graphics, our motion graphics investment from 2019, have kept their growth steady and are looking to break into new markets in 2023/24.

“This year’s results have been hit by a bad debt write-off which if it hadn’t would have seen significant growth from the previous year.”

The group’s UK turnover decreased during the year from £33.1m to £26.7m but grew from £5.3m to £11.5m in Europe and from £7.8m to £19.1m in the rest of the world.

Turnover for its branded content jumped from £1.3m to £13.2m but slipped from £44.3m to £43.3m for broadcast.

The company added: “The group continues to grow with continued focus on the international markets as well as e-gaming.

“We have a strong working relationship with Sony and have secured working capital facilities with our bank.

“The directors and senior management identified that in order to offset the risk around disability and lack of IP in sports broadcast contracts we needed to diversify into factual and entertainment.

“We have made great strides into this market with our three unscripted labels, who are gaining traction, and we see this achieving fast growth in the coming years and the addition of IP sales.

“Sports documentaries remain high on our agenda as we look to pull off the back of the success of our Ben Stokes film with two more in development and one commissioned for 2023/24.”

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