British-Nigerian Duo Ink Netflix Deal For Self-Funded Sitcom

Written by Ann Brown
A London creative duo didn’t let years of rejection make them give up their dream and now their self-funded sitcom is on Netflix. Image:MTA Production

The entertainment business is full of rejection. Some creatives buckle and give up. Others storm ahead until they get the “yes” the need. The latter is what a London creative duo did and now their self-funded sitcom is on Netflix.

Debra Odutuyo and Andrew Osayemi of MTA Production created “Meet the Adebanjos” a  British sitcom about the culture clash between immigrant parents trying to raise their British kids got rejection after rejection when they went to mainstream broadcasters. So they raised the funds to independently produce the sitcom and they produced 3 seasons (50 episodes) over the course of 6 years. At the start of November 2019, they secured a deal for Netflix to air the show worldwide and is now streaming around the world. 

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 67: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin goes solo to discuss the NFL’s entertainment and “social justice” deal with Jay-Z. We look back at the Barclays gentrification issue in the documentary “A Genius Leaves The Hood: The Unauthorized Story of Jay-Z.”

It took nine years, but now the sitcom is on Netflix, BBC, ITV, and SKY. 

Debra Odutuyo and Andrew Osayemi talk deals with Moguldom.

Moguldom: How did you first come together to create the company?
Andrew Osayemi:
Our dads met on a plane when they first came from Nigeria to the UK and became fast friends. So much so we grew up within a few minutes’ walk from each other in Peckham. So we have always been close family friends. Debra has always been in TV and I had just been fired from my job working in Investment banking. So when Debra said she needed help with setting up a production company and making TV shows I jumped at the chance as I had always wanted to do something creative. Our first show ‘Meet the Adebanjos’ was about our upbringing growing up as British with traditional Nigerian parents.

Moguldom: How did the Netflix deal come about?

Debra Odutuyo: Through the years we put in networking, attending TV conferences around the world and selling our ‘Meet the Adebanjos’ to TV stations across Africa. What many TV creators in the UK don’t realize is that there is a big world outside the UK when it comes to buying TV content. So we traveled the world selling our episodes and it was on that journey of selling we met an executive who brought the show for a previous TV station who at the start of the year ended up at Netflix. We reached out and the rest is history. 

Moguldom: How they raised the money to produce the three seasons?
Debra Odutuyo
: Through investors. As Andrew worked in the city previously he was able to reach out to friends he knew who were also passionate about a British Nigerian comedy being made and he convinced them to back him and the show. This is what secured the funding for season one. For Season two and three, we presold our episodes to TV stations around the world and kept selling until we had raised enough to cover the cost of a season. This is why it sometimes took two years between seasons as it was a grind. 

Moguldom: Andrew, why did you take the risk and leave your investment banking job to pursue a career in TV?
Andrew Osayemi
: One, I was fired (laughs). But in all seriousness, the reason I didn’t go back into investment banking was that I fell in love with the TV business. I was only supposed to help Debra out for a few months while I was looking for another job, but I rediscovered my creative side and also once I convinced investors to back the project I knew I had to stay to see it through as they had put their trust in me.

Moguldom: What’s next? 
Debra Odutuyo:
Either Season 4 or a movie adaptation of the series. We are asking our fans to let us know what they would like.