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

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.

New financial documents have revealed that the television production firm, Whisper Films, co-founded by broadcaster Jake Humphrey and former F1 driver David Coulthard, was forced into the red despite a surge in turnover.

The BAFTA-winning CEO Sunil Patel, who is also a co-founder, disclosed that a bad debt write-off in the latest financial year prevented the company from achieving substantial growth compared to the previous 12 months.

Whisper Films, known for its coverage of F1, international cricket, boxing, MMA, the women’s Super League, the Paralympics, and e-sports, encompasses the live sports and non-scripted production entities Whisper, Chapter 3 Graphics, and East Media.

The company secured investment from Sony Pictures Television in February 2020 and recently confirmed the extension of its contract to produce Channel 4’s F1 coverage until 2026. Whisper Films operates in London, Cardiff, Maidenhead, and Salford.

For the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2023, Whisper Films reported a pre-tax loss of £334,682, a stark contrast to the £624,646 profit in the preceding 12 months. Nonetheless, its turnover witnessed an increase from £46.3m to £57.4m during the same period. The average number of employees also rose from 153 to 232.

The company attributed this downturn to a bad debt write-off. The board’s statement noted the positive aspects of the year, such as the success of Ridiculous (East Entertainment Media) commissioned for ITV and the growth of Whisper North with two series commissioned for ITV in 2023/24. Chapter 3 Graphics, their motion graphics investment, maintained steady growth and aimed to explore new markets in 2023/24.

Despite a decline in UK turnover from £33.1m to £26.7m, the company experienced growth in Europe from £5.3m to £11.5m and in the rest of the world from £7.8m to £19.1m. Turnover for branded content surged from £1.3m to £13.2m, while broadcast turnover slightly decreased from £44.3m to £43.3m.

The company outlined its strategy for future growth, emphasizing a focus on international markets and e-gaming. Whisper Films highlighted a robust relationship with Sony and secured working capital facilities with its bank. To mitigate risks associated with disability and the lack of intellectual property (IP) in sports broadcast contracts, the company aimed to diversify into factual and entertainment content. The company expressed optimism about the fast growth potential in the coming years, particularly in unscripted content and IP sales. Sports documentaries remained a priority, with plans for two in development and one commissioned for 2023/24 following the success of their Ben Stokes film.