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2 Entertain


2 Entertain

2 entertain Limited
Private limited company
Industry Video and Music Publishing
Founded 1980 (As BBC Video)
1984 (As Video Collection International)
2006 (As 2 Entertain)
2012 (As BBC DVD)
Headquarters London, UK[1]
Key people Paul Dempsey
Chief Executive Officer
Parent BBC Worldwide

2 Entertain is a British video and music publisher, formed by the merger of BBC Video and Video Collection International in 2004. The company operated as a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and the Woolworths Group, until the BBC bought out Woolworths' share following the latter's administration in 2009.

2 Entertain has been fully integrated into BBC Worldwide's consumer products division and now operates solely as a publishing label for non-BBC releases, as the BBC logo is used for BBC releases.[2]

In April 2008 2 Entertain was awarded a Queen's Award for Enterprise.[3]


The company was formed as a joint venture in 2006, as Video Collection International (VCI) was merged with BBC Worldwide's video publishing business. VCI's parent company, the Woolworths Group, entered its retail and distribution businesses into administration in 2008. At the time, BBC Worldwide owned 60% of 2 Entertain, compared with Woolworths' 40%. 2 Entertain was not affected, as it was a self-funded business within the Woolworths Group.[4]

In late-November 2008, it was confirmed that BBC Worldwide was in talks to buy the remaining share in the company.[5] On 21 December 2008 The Daily Telegraph reported that the BBC had offered £40 million for the 40% stake in 2 Entertain, and that the board of Woolworths agreed that BBC Worldwide should negotiate on the purchase direct with its bankers, GMAC and Burdale, rather than through the board. However The Daily Telegraph noted that the BBC had offered £110m for the 40% stake a month earlier.[6] The Woolworths Group itself entered administration in January 2009. In March 2010 BBC Worldwide announced that they had bought the remainder of the company for £17 million.[7]

In April 2010, Banana Split Productions, part of the business, was sold to its Managing Director Laura Traill.

Original companies

BBC Video

BBC Video was established in 1980 as a division of BBC Enterprises (later BBC Worldwide) with John Ross Barnard as head.

At launch, the BBC had no agreement with British talent unions such as Equity or the Musician's Union (MU), so BBC Video was limited in the television programming it could release. Initial videocassette and laserdisc releases were either programmes with no Equity or MU involvement, such as natural history and other documentaries, or material licensed from third parties, including feature films such as High Noon and the first video release of Deep Purple's California Jam concert.

For the first few years, videos were produced on both VHS and Betamax formats. The BBC also worked with Philips on early Laserdisc releases, including a notable ornithology disc called British Garden Birds, presented by David Attenborough. This disc was published in 1982 and included digital data in the form of teletext, which could be read by any suitably-equipped television. This pioneering use of a data channel on a consumer video led directly to the development of the BBC Domesday Project in 1984–1986. Since videos could have stereo soundtracks, BBC Video produced stereophonic versions of many programmes that had been broadcast in mono. These included The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (although release was delayed due to the lack of an Equity agreement) and the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer.

By 1982 an agreement had been reached with the Musicians' Union and this led to some popular music releases (including compilations by John Martyn and Tom Robinson).

The label established itself in 1984. The label grew significantly from £13 million turnover in 1989 to nearly £39 million in 1994. In 1991 BBC Video was the number 1 video label in the UK when more pre-recorded videotapes were sold by value and units than any other company, including all of the Hollywood studios.

BBC Video was well known for its releases of Fawlty Towers, Doctor Who, and Monty Python's Flying Circus. Titles released in the United Kingdom were released through 3M and the company itself, while in North America titles were released through CBS-Fox (from the 1980s–1990s, originally through the children's subsidiary Playhouse Video for Doctor Who until unedited releases began) and more recently Warner Home Video (2000–present) and in Australia through Roadshow Entertainment and ABC Video/DVD.

Video Collection International

Video Collection International was a video company based in the UK. It was formed in 1984 and established in 1985. Originally part of the Prestwich Group, based in New Southgate, London, it was subject to an MBO (management buyout) headed by Steve Ayres CEO and Paddy Toomey (ex Woolworths) as MD. The vision of 'Sell Through Video' was born with the strong Woolworths association driving the retail sales.

With these individuals at the helm, the company expanded rapidly, securing the market lead in retail video sales throughout the late 1980s into mid-1990s

The company mainly served as a home video label for ITV television programmes which later launched the Central Video, LWT Video, Granada Media, Thames Video, and Channel 4 Video labels in the process. In the early 1990s, it launched the Cinema Club label, which mainly consigned of re-releases of films from the late 1960s/early 1970s, which would normally be from Columbia TriStar Home Video.

After suffering financial losses in 1995 it received an overhaul and the company name changed to VCI and with it the Central Video label was discontinued; Cinema Club was discontinued in 1999 and was re-established under the FilmFour name. Though the Cinema Club logo would still be used for occasional budgeted titles after that. In 1998, it began releasing DVDs. The company split into two arms; publishing (VCI) based in Dean Street, London, and VCI Distribution, which also handled third party distribution for 'labels' outside its own stable, based in Watford and the old premises in New Southgate.

Soon after, Thames Video was discontinued and the Granada Media label was introduced and would soon appear on most VCI titles, whereas Channel 4 Video (or also called 4 DVD) became a separate company.

Following the formation of ITV plc in 2004, the Granada Ventures division was created. In 2006, Granada Ventures launched the ITV DVD label in place of Granada, LWT London, this was subsequently rebranded in 2010 as ITV Studios Home Entertainment. VCI, by now, had become part of the Woolworths Group. BBC Worldwide and Woolworths Group merged VCI with BBC Video to create 2entertain Video, part of their new joint venture company 2entertain.

Video Collection International was a division of VCI/PolyGram Video Holdings.


External links

  • BBC Worldwide’s Consumer Products official website
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