Homelessness, plastic surgery and prisons are among the subjects that will be explored in Channel 4’s slate of programmes for 2019.
The new shows are part of a deliberate drive by the channel to offer distinctive content, in a bid to beat competition from streaming services and other broadcasters.
At the launch of the new slate, Ian Katz, the channel’s Director of Programming, said he wants to focus on “entertaining, mischievous and innovative shows about the big issues and arguments in Britain today.”
He added: “Many of the shows [launching in 2019] are not ones that the global digital giants, even as they plough billions into new content, would be remotely interested in making.”
The new commissions include Ghost (working title), which follows a group of terminally ill people as they record holographic versions of themselves to comfort family members after their deaths; Secret Teacher (w/t), which sees some of the UK’s successful business owners, who all struggled in the classroom, return to secondary school is disguise, and The Light (w/t) – a new drama from Jack Thorne starring RTS award-winner Sarah Lancashire, about a town searching for truth in the aftermath of a tragedy.
Katz unveiled The Cure (w/t), a new single drama from Dave Nath, which tells the true story of Julie Bailey, who single-handedly took on the establishment to expose the Mid Staffs Hospital scandal.
He also announced that the critically-acclaimed Prison will return for a second series, in which filmmaker Paddy Wivell will focus on female inmates, and meet both prisoners and staff.
In 60 Days on the Streets, explorer and former army captain Ed Stafford will swap the desert for the streets of Britain, living alongside homeless people in London, Manchester and Glasgow to show a first-hand view of Britain’s homeless crisis.
Other commissions include The Surjury, where a panel of experts and peers will decide whether young people seeking plastic surgery will get their procedure or not, and the brilliantly-named Lodgers for Old Codgers, which will see cash-strapped millennials move in with lonely pensioners, providing companionship and help around the house in exchange for lower rent.
Katz revealed that Lupus Films will adapt Judith Kerr’s children’s classic The Tiger Who Came to Tea, for the screen this Christmas.
Meanwhile, Harry Hill will return to Channel 4 for a new 11pm show starring Hill and a group of up-and-coming comedians. Nick Mohammed (Uncle) will star in a new pilot featuring his comedy alter-ego Mr Swallow, while Tez Ilyas (Man Like Mobeen) will make his Channel 4 debut in a new satirical show.
The channel have previously announced that hit comedy Derry Girls will return for a second series this year, and a series of special programming will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landings.