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History

A history of creativity, passion and outstanding success.

FremantleMedia was created in 2001 and is the sum of a number of major companies. Some of these have been operating for many years under Pearson Television, whilst others have had a long and illustrious independent history - including UFA which dates back to 1917. This timeline illustrates the key milestones in our history and how FremantleMedia has grown to be a global leader in television production and programming.

  • 1917

    Founded: Universum-Film AG (UFA)

    UFA is the oldest production company operating under the FremantleMedia name. During WWI, it created propaganda and some world-class films.

  • 1922

    UFA production centre

    The Neubabelsberg Bioscop studios served as a production centre, alongside studios in Berlin-Tempelhof.

  • 1926

    Neubabelsberg Bioscop

    The Neubabelsberg Bioscop studios housed Europe's largest contemporary sound stage. UFA makes the iconic Metropolis.

  • 1927

    Takeover: UFA

    After a difficult financial crisis, UFA was taken over by the Scherl Group, owned by publisher Alfred Hugenberg.

  • 1930

    Produced: The Blue Angel

    Josef von Sternberg made the talkie "Der Blaue Engel".

  • 1933

    Emigration

    After the National Socialists came to power, iconic film makers Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, Erich Pommer emigrated.

  • 1942

    Merger: UFA-Film GmbH

    UFA, Tobis, Terra, Bavaria and Wien-Film merge under the Gleichschaltung - a forced standardisation of political and social institutions under an authoritarian regime.

  • 1945

    Occupation: UFA offices

    On 24th April 1945, units of the Red Army occupied the UFA grounds.

  • 1946

    Founded: DEFA

    Deutsche Filmaktiengesellschaft (DEFA) – the first film production company in post-war Germany, was founded on 17th May.

  • 1955

    Launched: This Is Your Life

    Launched in Britain (BBC1), moving to ITV and Thames Television in 1969.

    Characters from the the TV show This is your life
  • 1956

    Launched: The Price Is Right

    The longest-running gameshow in TV history and remains the number one American daytime entertainment show.

    Still from the TV show The Price is Right
  • 1964

    Acquisition: Bertelsmann

    Bertelsmann acquired Universum Film AG, as well as shares in UFA-Theater. The Murnau Foundation protected the rights to former UFA films.

  • 1968

    Launched: Thames Television

    Thames Television launches in the UK.

    Thames Television
  • 1969

    Launched: The Benny Hill Show

    An award-winning format running for over 30 years, the show featured zany songs and inventive film sequences.

    Benny Hill Show
  • 1972

    Acquisition: UFA Theater AG

    Meanwhile, the Riech Group acquired UFA-Theater AG from Bertelsmann and continued to run it under UFA.

  • 1975

    Launched: The Sweeney

    A ground-breaking drama about the Flying Squad, an elite investigation unit of the London Police.

    Still from the TV show The Sweeney
  • 1976

    Launched: George & Mildred

    A spin-off from Man about the House, the show ran for five series between 1976 and 1980.

    Still from the TV show George and Mildred
  • 1978

    Launched: Morecambe & Wise

    Produced by Thames Television, the classic duo performed sketches and musical routines, achieving huge British ratings.

    Morecambe and Wise
  • Libraries/Site_Images/Morecam-be-_-Wise.sflb.ashx
  • 1984

    Launched: The Bill

    The UK's longest-running police drama.

    Characters from the TV show The Bill
  • 1986

    Launched: Neighbours

    A huge hit for Network TEN in Australia and BBC1.

    Characters from the TV show Neighbours
  • 1988

    Launched: Going for Gold

    On air since 1988, Going for Gold (Questions Pour un Champion) is the number one game show on France 3.

    Still from the TV show Going for Gold
  • 1989

    Launched: Baywatch

    This award-winning show brought the blue skies and beautiful beaches of Southern California to 1 billion viewers worldwide.

    Characters from the TV show Baywatch
  • 1991

    UFA production companies

    Since 1991, the UFA production companies have been managed by Wolf Bauer, Norbert Sauer and Axel Reick.

  • 1992

    Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten

    Germany’s first daily serial drama – and still the highest-rated.

     Characters from the TV show Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten
  • 1995

    Launched: A Place in the Sun

    The number one drama on Rai 3 with a 2010 audience of 2.8 million viewers.

    Characters from the TV show A Place in the Sun
  • 1996

    Acquisition: Pearson Television

    Pearson Television acquires SelecTV, which includes Alomo productions who make Birds of a Feather and Goodnight Sweetheart.

    Characters from the TV show Birds of a Feather
  • 1997

    Acquisition: Pearson Television

    Pearson TV buys All American Fremantle, adding The Price is Right, Family Feud and Baywatch to their programming strength.

  • 1998

    Launched: Between Friends

    Hungary's first ever daily serial drama and number one to this day.

    Characters from the TV show Between Friends
  • 1999

    Launched: Grand Designs

    Channel 4's most successful property show peaking with an audience of over 5 million viewers in 2008.

    Still from Grand Designs
  • 2000

    Merger: RTL Group

    Pearson Television merges with CLT-UFA, forming the RTL group.

    RTL Group logo
  • 2001

    Launched: The Farmer Wants a Wife

    The highest-rated entertainment show in the Netherlands since 2003. Nearly one third of the population tune in.

    Still from The Farmer wants a wife
  • 2001

    New Name: FremantleMedia

    FremantleMedia is born and is the new company name for the content production division of RTL group.

    FremantleMedia
  • 2001

    Award Winner: Pop Idol

    The UK's Pop Idol wins Europe’s top television award – Rose d’Or (The Golden Rose of Montreux).

    Will Young sings on Pop Idol
  • 2003

    Acquisition: FremantleMedia

    FremantleMedia acquires Crackerjack Productions - one of Australia’s most creative entertainment production companies.

    Crackerjack Productions logo
  • 2003

    Launched: How Clean is Your House?

    This domestic reality series has aired in more than 12 countries worldwide.

    Characters from the TV show How Clean is Your House?
  • 2004

    Launched: The X Factor

    Launched in the UK on ITV and has gone on to become the UK's highest-rated talent show this decade.

    Still from The X-Factor
  • 2005

    Anniversary: Neighbours

    Neighbours celebrates its 25th anniversary.

    Characters from the TV show Neighbours
  • 2007

    Launched: Hole In The Wall

    FremantleMedia acuires the Japanese format, which later became the most successful format of 2008.

    Characters from the TV show Hole in the wall
  • 2007

    Launched: Die Flucht

    This German TV movie was the number one drama of the year with an audience of 11.2 million viewers.

  • 2007

    Record Breaker: American Idol

    Breaks new records, surpassing 3 billion votes since it's launch in 2003. 

    Still from American Idol
  • 2009

    Launched: Take Him Out

    A spin off from Take Me Out, this launched in Indonesia with two million viewers watching the first programme.

  • 2009

    Record Breaker: Britain's Got Talent

    One of the highest-rated talent show this decade in the UK peaking at 19.3 million viewers for the 2009 final.

    Still from Britains got talent
  • 2009

    Ratings Smash: The X Factor

    The grand final of season 6 attracted nearly 20 million viewers and a massive 62% audience share.

    The X Factor judges
  • pre-60s
  • 60s
  • 70s
  • 80s
  • 90s
  • 00s

For a full summary of our history and timeline click here.