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BBC among suitors for Gruffalo producer Magic Light Pictures

The BBC’s content arm is among the suitors vying to buy the television production company which owns the rights to The Gruffalo.

Sky News has learnt that BBC Studios is participating in a sale process for Magic Light Pictures, which has won three BAFTAs and secured a quartet of Oscar nominations.

The auction is being run by Gotham Street, a specialist media deals boutique.

A number of other bidders are also said to be involved in the process given the quality of Magic Light’s content library, which includes a number of works by The Gruffalo’s creators, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

The Gruffalo has become one of Britain’s best-known children’s characters, telling the story of an adventurous mouse which fends off a series of would-be predators by telling them about a supposedly imaginary creature called a gruffalo.

In the 2011 sequel, The Gruffalo’s Child, the mouse then scares off a young gruffalo by using shadows to project a giant version of itself.

The two films have been distributed internationally by Magic Light, and along with the original Gruffalo books have sparked substantial merchandising revenues as well as a theme park attraction at Chessington World of Adventures.

Among the other books by Ms Donaldson and Mr Scheffler turned into films by Magic Light are Room on the Broom, Stick Man and Zog.

The production company is largely owned by its founders, Michael Rose and Martin Pope, who set up the business in 2003.

Its employees and a number of other parties are also shareholders.

The price which it is expected to fetch in a sale was unclear on Friday.

Accounts filed at Companies House for the year ended March 31, 2023 showed a profit of £0.8m on turnover of just over £9m.

Industry sources said that BBC Studios was a logical buyer for Magic Light Pictures, having been steadily expanding its portfolio of production assets in recent years.

Among its wholly owned labels are baby Cow, Firebird Pictures and Voltage TV.

The Corporation also has a number of minority stakes in independent producers, and last year bought a 25% interest in Mettlemouse Entertainment, whose founder oversaw shows such as Geordie Shore and Celebs Go Dating.

BBC Studios and Magic Light Pictures both declined to comment.

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