Before founding Top Hat, Darren was a factual commissioner at the BBC. He originated and executive produced dramas such as the Bafta and RTS winning Murdered by my Boyfriend and the Broadcast Award winning My Murder. He was the executive producer on the critically acclaimed Meet The Ukippers and as a commissioner oversaw the Grierson and RTS winning drama series Our World War, the Grierson winning Our War: Goodbye Afghanistan and Inside the Commons.
During his career as a film maker he has worked across current affairs, documentary, history and politics. He started his film making career in BBC Current Affairs where he specialised in investigations and films in war zones. Films he produced and directed won multiple RTS awards as well as Banff, Peabody, Foreign Press Association and Amnesty awards.
Ben Steele - Creative Director
Ben joined Top Hat in 2016 and is the series director and cinematographer behind Love & Hate Crime. In recent years Ben has been nominated for two EMMYS, a BAFTA and won a Grierson Award, Rory Peck Sony Impact Award and a Foreign Press Association Award. Recent films have been commissioned by HBO, Netflix, BBC and Channel 4.
Marisa Verazzo - Head of Production
Marisa joined Top Hat as Head of Production in April 2018. Her television career began at the BBC, working in production management across all areas of factual programming. Marisa has managed popular series for Channel 4, such as The Commandos, Cutting Edge and Walking Through History with Tony Robinson, as well as, documentaries for the BBC about poverty in the UK and the troubles in Northern Ireland. Recently Marisa line produced Melvin Bragg’s award-winning arts series The South Bank Show and was Head of Production at Wild Pictures before joining Top Hat.
Miranda Peters - Development Executive
Miranda joined Top Hat in May 2018 as a Development Executive focusing on new ideas and growing Top Hat’s development slate.
Miranda joined Darren and his team at Top Hat from Wild Pictures where she developed a number of shows for all the major Channels. Before this she was an Executive Producer at Blink Films working on BBC1’s popular science film, The Truth about Stress. Prior to this Miranda freelanced at Ricochet where she developed Superfoodsfor C4, Britain’s Favourite Dogsfor ITV1 and Executive Produced BBC2’s The Hairy Bikers and Lorraine Pascale: Cooking the Nation’s Favourite Food.
Before freelancing she was Head of Development at Tern Television for the best part of six years and was responsible for key commissions for the Scottish indie such as ITV1’s Wildlife Patrol, a number of Real Crime documentaries, Russia’s Toughest for National Geographic, Treasures of the Indusfor BBC4, The Beauty of … Maps, Diagrams, Books and Anatomy for BBC4 and Speed King: The Donald Campbell Story for BBC2 which was nominated for a Grierson.
Esther McWatters - Development Producer
Esther joined Top Hat in 2016. Previously she worked at the BBC producing and directing films across genres including This World, the Culture Show and Watchdog.
Simon Gilchrist - Series Director
Simon Gilchrist is a multi award winning documentary producer/ director.
He has received 3 BAFTA nominations. ‘Great Ormond Street’ series at the world-famous children’s hospital for BBC Two, ‘Kids in Care’ for BBC One and ‘Route Masters: Keeping London Moving’. He has also received a Royal Television Society award for journalism.
His ground breaking ‘The Met: Policing London’ for the BBC spent a year in the life of Scotland Yard, following officers from homicide, gangs, firearms units, to street policing. This highly successful series went on to be recommissioned three times..
More recently he produced ‘Inside the American Embassy’ for C4 where cameras were allowed in for the first time to see US Diplomacy in action.
Elliott Swinburn - Producer
Elliott is producing Series 2 of Love and Hate Crime having started at Top Hat in June 2016, co-producing the first series, which went on to bag a Grierson nomination and win a Broadcast Digital award. He joined the our team from Raw, having been an integral part of the BAFTA nominated BBC One documentary, 'The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs', amongst other productions.
Diana Francis - Production Manager
Diana joined Top Hat in October 2018. She spent 13 years at RDF, production managing on a range of documentary, history and Fact Ent programmes including Spitfire Ace, Secret Millionaire and Cutting Edge: Freaky Sleepers, before leaving to work on projects such as The Big Life Fix and Gypsy Kids: Our Secret World. Recent credits include Dispatches: Homeless and Working for C4 and The Paras: Men of War for ITV.