Hello Dolly Hones Limitless Production Strategies


Stuart Shawcross and Victoria Ashbourne, co-founders of Hello Dolly, talk to TV Formats about the company’s production strategies, particularly with Ant & Dec’s Limitless Win.

This year kicked off the launch of Ant & Dec’s Limitless Win on ITV. The game show, hosted by the eponymous powerhouse presenting duo, marked ITV’s biggest brand-new entertainment launch since The Masked Singer and proved a hit among the coveted 16-to-34 demographic, with the show winning its slot each week. Created by Hello Dolly and co-developed by Hello Dolly and Mitre Studios, the series has been recommissioned for a second season.

“Reality is huge at the moment, both with new formats breaking through and old ones having a resurgence,” Shawcross, founder and chief creative officer of Hello Dolly, tells TV Formats. “But I think entertainment formats will always be important—shows that can bring families together. We found that with Limitless Win, families loved being able to play the questions together. In the next series, we’re evolving the show so that it’s even more entertaining for the viewers at home.”

Limitless Win has also now been commissioned for a local version by RTL in Germany. On Hello Dolly’s approach to adaptation, Shawcross explains: “We work in a number of ways—with Sing On!, we ran the hub in the U.K. and produced the U.S. version. For the Spanish and German versions of Sing On! (filmed at the U.K. hub), we co-produced with our Banijay counterparts from those territories. On Limitless Win, we have been consulting on the adaptation.”

Ashbourne, founder and chief executive, teases that Hello Dolly has “several exciting projects in development—none of which we can reveal just yet.”

With regard to co-development, Shawcross says that the company takes each project on a case-by-case basis. “We have some exciting talent-led co-developments in the pipeline,” he adds.

Over the last 20 years, Ashbourne and Shawcross, who launched Hello Dolly in 2017, have created and produced hundreds of hours of prime-time network and cable series, including competition formats, music specials, quiz shows and live chat shows for platforms around the globe. “We pitch to the major U.K. networks, the U.S. networks and the streamers,” Ashbourne says. “The approach to each project is bespoke. We work out where the format is best placed and create a pitch strategy from there.”

Looking at what’s trending in the format space, Shawcross says that, more than ever, “big, noisy formats that cut through are key, be it reality, game or competition—it’s things that stand out and have a clear USP and hook that can grab audiences’ attention in a very crowded market.”