Real Housewives are coming to the UK after ITV bought Leftfield Entertainment

ITV has taken a turn toward the trashier side of broadcasting, buying 80% of Leftfield Studios, which makes Real Housewives of New Jersey and Pawn Stars.

by Emma Haslett

Is ITV trying to fill the ‘trash gap’ left when the Beeb decided to put BBC Three out of its misery? The broadcaster has just paid $360m (£212m) for Leftfield Entertainment, the studios which brings us such high-brow entertainment as Real Housewives of New Jersey and When Ghosts Attack. Also, Southern Fried Homicide. Classy. Lord Clark's Civilisation it ain't.

The acquisition (ITV’s biggest ever, after its disastrous £175m buyout of Friends Reunited in 2005) means its US division attains the rather dubious goal of being the largest independent unscripted producer in the US. Just in case that’s not enough for the company, it has the option to buy the whole of Leftfield, for the bargain price of $800m.

There were a few complaints in February when the special dividend ITV announced (up 11%) wasn’t seen as enough. But now the reasoning behind that is clear: it was saving its pocket money to spend on the broadcasting equivalent of a giant bag of sherbert lemons.

Investors seem happy enough: after an initial jump this morning, share price settled just over 1.2% higher than yesterday’s closing price.

‘The [Leftfield] team has combined creativity with strong production expertise,’ said ITV chief exec Adam Crozier in a statement. Well – creativity, or lashings of fake tan. Whatever you want to call it.

- ITV boss Adam Crozier: 'I'm a bit of a control freak'

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