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BRAND NEW SERIES The Hotel People

15 August 2022
The Hotel People is a warm and invitational six-part observational series following the team at Northern Ireland’s largest family owned luxury hotel chain as they try to bounce back from some of the toughest times the hospitality industry has ever faced.
 
After nearly 18 months of closures and uncertainty, the Hastings Hotel Group reopened their doors in May 2021. Having suffered over £16.5 million losses during the pandemic, the team have to find inventive ways to bring back business, fast. But the challenges they face are great.  As they prepare to welcome back guests and events, the managers are faced with staff shortages. And with few overseas guests, finding ways to stand out in the local market has never been more vital for them.
 
In this series, beginning on BBC One Northern Ireland on Monday 22 August at 10.40pm and BBC Two on Tuesday 23 August at 8pm, we follow the staff at all levels in four of the group’s hotels, as they pull together to navigate this new post-Covid version of hospitality. From the housekeepers trying to keep hundreds of rooms spotless while tackling bogus bedbug claims, to bar staff hoping to win the insta crowd with a killer cocktails and chefs delivering high-end banquets for hundreds while mending wobbly wedding cakes to keep a big day special.
 
And we’re on the shoulders of the general managers as they welcome everyone from Premiership footballers and A-list actors to boxers and beauty queens while trouble shooting, keeping up staff morale and making sure guests don’t notice if there’s any drama behind-the-scenes..
 
Although a hotel chain, each of the four hotels is unique.
 
The Europa Hotel (one of the most bombed hotels in the world) in Belfast city centre is celebrating 50 years of business. Running this hotel is General Manager and Director of Hotels James McGinn, he is also celebrating his own personal milestone of 25 years at the hotel group. A passionate perfectionist who spends almost every hour at work, he has worked his way up to Director of Hotels, supporting his team of managers while coming up with plans to ensure not just the hotels’ survival but their development and continued success.
 
Also in Belfast city centre, is the group’s newest hotel – The Grand Central, which, after a build cost of £53 million, opened in 2017 as the most expensive hotel ever to be built in Northern Ireland. It Observatory Bar offers panoramic views across Belfast. For General Manager Stephen Meldrum, the pressure is on for the hotel to earn it’s keep and he  has his goal set on achieving five-star status.  He must rally his troops to go the extra mile in these turbulent times.
 
On the outskirts of Belfast, the five-star Culloden Estate and Spa, attracts A-list celebrities, premiership footballers and grand events. Weddings account for 35 per cent of its revenue, and with a backlog of postponed and rescheduled weddings and events in the diary, the team is geared up for a bumper year. However, despite bold new initiatives, like the biggest art and sculpture show ever seen in Ireland and a glamorous champagne bus - staff shortages wreak havoc and as they struggle to maintain the high level of service expected, no one is prepared for the fallout.
 
Down the coast, in the seaside town of Newcastle, the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa has long been a favourite of holidaymakers who come for the scenery of the beautiful Mourne Mountains, to tee off at the adjacent golf course and for the olde worlde Victorian charm of the hotel. Helicopter arrivals are nothing new to the staff and bookings with staycationers and families are high. The summer gets off to a flying start, but what happens next is a bolt out of the blue.
 
At the heart of all these hotels is the staff. As they deal with the fallout of the pandemic, it is their resilience and humour that comes to the fore, as the teams bond like a family determined to face each problem head on, in a fight for survival.
 
The Hotel People is a Waddell Media production for BBC Northern Ireland and BBC Two, with support from Northern Ireland Screen.  The series was made through the partnership between BBC Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Screen and BBC TWO to develop and commission a network factual series from the Northern Ireland creative sector.

CHANNEL 4 DOUBLES ORDER FOR WADDELL’S NEW SERIES OF BRITAIN’S MOST EXPENSIVE HOUSES

17 May 2022
Following the huge success of series one of Britain’s Most Expensive Houses, which averaged at over 1.5 m per episode, Channel 4 has doubled its previous order and commissioned a new 8x60-part series from the award-winning, Belfast-based, Waddell Media.
 
Waddell Media has once again secured exclusive access following the world’s largest luxury estate agency, UK Sotheby’s International Realty. This glossy documentary series will give viewers a fascinating glimpse into the most incredible properties on the market whilst offering a unique insight into the glamourous lifestyles of the ultra-high net-worth buyers and vendors.
 
Each episode will feature several properties including one valued in excess of £20 million and a large part of the show will be dedicated to the property journeys of the HNW (High Net Worth) individuals featured.
 
The UK property market is still booming. The number of Trophy homes sold in London has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Many HNW’s are upgrading to properties with outdoor spaces and UK Sotheby’s International Realty are busier than ever now that travel restrictions have been lifted.
 
Jasper Hone, Assistant Editor, Channel 4 Daytime & Features said: “We are delighted to be working with Waddell Media and UK Sotheby’s International Realty on another series of Britain’s Most Expensive Houses, allowing us all to peek inside more of the extraordinary and outlandish homes of the super-rich.”
 
Jannine Waddell, Executive Producer and Managing Director, Waddell Media said: “We are absolutely delighted to be re-commissioned by Channel 4 for a bumper series of Britain’s Most Expensive Houses.  This exclusive access driven series will showcase the UK’s most incredible homes from castles to country estates to London penthouses; all with eye watering price tags.”
 
Sophie Wurzer Williams, Executive Producer said: “This series will deliver even more  extraordinary characters on their buying journey with the brokers opening the doors to some of the most jaw dropping properties the UK has to offer.”
 
Britain’s Most Expensive Houses has been commissioned for Channel 4 by Jasper Hone and is Executive Produced by Jannine Waddell and Sophie Wurzer -Williams and Series Produced by Chris Walley.

NEW SERIES The Chronicles Of Strangford

14 January 2022
Narrated by Armagh-born actor Colin Morgan, The Chronicles of Strangford is a new four-part documentary series from Waddell Media for BBC Northern Ireland.

Beginning on Monday 17 January on BBC One Northern Ireland at 7.30pm, the series follows characters in and around Strangford Lough over the course of four seasons. The story of the Lough is told through the people who live and work there, preserving traditions and protecting the wildlife that shares their home.

At 150 square kilometres, Strangford Lough is the largest sea inlet in the UK. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty that starts just 10 miles east of Belfast and stretches southwards to the tip of the Ards Peninsula. Strangford Lough is internationally recognised as an important habitat for a variety of birds, animals and marine life. 

 “The Chronicles of Strangford” is the fourth instalment in the critically acclaimed “Chronicles” series, which has included “The Chronicles of Mourne” “The Chronicles of Erne” and “Chronicles of the Glens”. Like those series, it is filmed using a variety of techniques including drones and time-lapse photography, which bring familiar landscapes and secret corners of the lough to life in a spectacular fashion.

The landscape and weather is as much a part of the programme as the people it follows, and their relationship with their natural surroundings and the lough’s delicate eco system is the overall theme of the series. It is about local people working with nature and protecting their place in the world. It offers a glimpse into a lifestyle where appreciating and preserving our surroundings takes centre stage.

Strangford Lough gets its name from the Vikings who knew it as “strong fjord”, after its powerful tides.  Four times a day 400 million gallons of water are pushed and pulled through the lough, creating whirlpools and eddies in the narrows to the south and shaping the shallow shorelines to the north. The tidal waters flood the lough with nutrients that feed a diverse variety of marine life, some of which is still being discovered.

The lough was known in ancient Irish as Loch Cuan, which can be translated as harbour lake. It’s an apt name as its many islands offer shelter and sanctuary to a huge range of wildlife, many of whom treat it as a temporary home before they move elsewhere. Every autumn its many islands become a giant grey seal nursery, as they swim in from the open sea to breed and raise their young. While the tides transform the landscape four times a day, migration transforms the lough’s population every season. This feeling of constant flux and change is very much part of life on Strangford Lough.

‘Daniel O’Donnell’ new documentary by Waddell Media to celebrate Daniel’s 60th birthday this December

20 December 2021
A landmark arts documentary exploring the life and career of softly spoken superstar crooner and undisputed National treasure, Daniel O’Donnell will be shown on RTE One and BBC One NI on Tuesday 28 December to mark his 60th birthday.

Daniel at Sixty is a fascinating and revealing insight into the man himself with exclusive access to Daniel during his recent UK and US tour, and contributions from friends, colleagues and fans who have played an important role in his private and professional life over the years.

Veronica Cunningham, Producer and Director, Waddell Media says “We have been given extraordinary access to Daniel behind the scenes at his concerts in Birmingham, Blackpool and Llandudno as well as joining him at his triumphant return to Branson Missouri for his traditional run of pre-Christmas shows. This is a timely and illuminating film which offers an intimate, poignant and entertaining profile of this much-loved artist from his boyhood in Donegal to becoming an internationally celebrated entertainer.”

There are also revealing interviews with his family, as wife Majella, sister Margo (and Daniel’s eldest brother John Bosco O’Donnell in a TV first) talk about their relationships with Daniel over the years. Daniel’s best friend since school PJ Sweeney, his friend and mentor Philomena Begley, Dungloe postman Owen Doyle and the two Donegal boys who produced his viral ‘Down at the Lah De Dah’ video also pay tribute to the man alongside some famous faces wishing him a Happy Birthday including Sir Cliff Richard, Garth Brooks and Nathan Carter.

Daniel is one of the most prolific and popular recording artists Ireland has ever produced. Since releasing his first album, The Boy From Donegal, back in 1984 he has gone on to achieve world-wide success, selling over ten million records and becoming the first singer to have a different album in the British charts every year for 34 consecutive years. To date he has now amassed 40 Top 40 albums, including 18 Top 10 albums, with 16 of them this century, a feat that has not been achieved by any other recording artist.

Although he found professional success early on, Daniel’ s own life has not been without its trials. His father Francie passed away when Daniel was only six, leaving his impoverished mother to raise the family alone. His older sister Margo, also a well-known performer, found life on the showband circuit tough and leant on alcohol, ending up in rehab and estranged from her brother. The pair only reconciling very recently. And in recent years he has also supported his wife Majella through her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. In addition, his charity work, notably for The Romanian Challenge Appeal, has also made a lasting impact in the lives of many people in need across the world.

As well-known for his dedicated fans as he is for his music, Daniel has always had an easy rapport with his audience. Over the years he has often been parodied for his unashamed ‘Mammy ’s Boy Image’, 80’s mullets and pastel knitwear, famously inspiring the boyish and dim-witted television presenter and pop superstar Eoin McLove in Father Ted. Taking it all in good humour, Daniel has had the last laugh as he continues to play to packed out concerts at home and abroad.

And despite the obvious restrictions brought on by lockdown, Daniel has continued to reach out to audiences large and small. From his solo open-air concerts for elderly residents ‘cocooning’ in Donegal hospitals and care homes, not forgetting his and Majella’s regular, sometimes slightly unscheduled, Facebook Live appearances.

With exclusive access to Daniel, his family and friends and an archive trip down memory lane, a family album of pictures and some behind the scenes bloopers from La De Dah, Daniel O’Donnell the Boy from Donegal promises to be an entertaining and honest insight into the life of a local hero at 60.

‘’I never thought, you know, when I started singing. I could never have imagined how it would work out or how it would pan out. I'm so grateful for all the things that's happened and over the 60 years, all the people that have come into my life’’ - Daniel O’Donnell November 2021

“I suppose if I can be remembered as somebody that brought people together, there's too much dividing the world. And if I was known that I brought some together, I would be very happy’’ - Daniel O’Donnell November 2021

NEW SERIES Britain's Most Expensive Houses

13 December 2021
With exclusive access to part of the world’s largest luxury estate agency UK Sotheby’s International Realty, this new 4 x 60 mins series will bring viewers behind the doors of more of the UK’s most incredible homes. The series will follow prospective buyers as they view and purchase high-priced houses across the country, as well as following the work and home lives of Sotheby’s estate agents.

Starting 29th December with all episodes available on All 4.

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