Disney+ EMEA head cites ‘latitude’ offered by streamer

Extraordinary - Disney+


Disney+’s EMEA content lead Liam Keelan has described Bob Iger as a “creative at heart” as he saluted the chief exec’s return to the helm.

Speaking at Content London, Keelan said Iger had been “massively supported” by his team during the 12 months they worked together ahead of his departure as he revealed that his shock return had been well-received internally.

“I was on a town hall meeting yesterday where Bob spoke and creativity was at the forefront of his thinking,” Keelan said during his keynote session. “It was massively encouraging to hear.”

Keelan, who joined Disney in 2020 after two decades with the BBC, championed the “latitude” it offered when compared to the often-restrictive environment of a traditional broadcaster.

“We’ve been allowed to just get on with it and create shows that, we hope, are going to stand the test of time,” he said.

Liam Keelan

Liam Keelan

This does not include British takes on the superhero or sci-fi genres, despite the plethora of IP owned by Disney across brands such as Marvel and Star Wars.

“We’re not commissioning what you would call a classic sci-fi show out of the UK,” he said, citing comedy Extraordinary, which follows a woman who lives in a world where everyone but her has a superpower, as an outlier with a “twist”.

He added that shiny floor entertainment is also not a priority because it is “so well covered by the free-to-air broadcasters”.

Each EMEA country under Keelan’s control has “two or three unscripted projects”, with around 80% of output comprising drama and comedy.

Adult animation was identified as an area in which some exploratory conversations are underway.

Keelan also indicated that there is some opportunity for cross-country co-commissions “if the right idea came along”, noting the level of interest from the German office in France’s decision to commission Kaiser Karl, a six-part drama about designer Karl Lagerfeld from Parisian producer Gaumont.

“We’re discussing those things all the time,” he said. “We don’t have a structure on co-productions, it’s more about sharing ideas. But the money is there if the idea is right.”