From social experiments to documentaries, Channel 4 has a wide variety of new shows coming up in 2020 to add to your watch list.
Kevin McCloud’s Rough Guide to the Future
Kevin McCloud has high hopes for the future and technology, but the same cannot be said for comedians Phil Wang, Jon Richardson and broadcaster Alice Levine.
With so many new innovations happening at a rapid pace, McCloud believes that these innovations and our ability to imagine the impossible will help save humanity from themselves.
The three-part series follows Levine, Richardson and Wang as they attempt to understand a world far from their own, full of robot butlers, lab grown meat and bizarre technology from China, Japan and America.
With a light-hearted approach, some of the biggest challenges to face humanity will be explored, but will driverless cars, avatar robots and remote surgery make the trio scared or excited for the future?
Kevin McCloud’s Rough Guide to the Future is in partnership with Vodafone and will be produced by Boundless.
Kevin McCloud commented: “Our own genius is our downfall. Science and technology have aided and abetted humanity to make amazing progress for centuries, but they’ve also helped us screw up the planet.
“Now let’s see if they can get us out of this mess and help deliver a future for us.”
The Segregation Experiment
Unconscious racial bias is the focus of this ground-breaking social experiment based on pioneering American schemes.
The Segregation Experiment focuses on a class of 11- to 12-year-old pupils and is led by Multicultural Education academics and scientists.
The pupil’s initial biases are tested with a bespoke version of the Harvard Implicit Association Test, which is a benchmark test for unconscious racial bias.
Pupils views on race are challenged through games, exercises and activities taught by their teachers over three weeks at a London comprehensive school, during this time they are observed by a team of experts.
Social psychologist Professor Rhiannon Turner, Queens University Belfast, commented: “Tests have revealed that children as young as six are aware of racial differences but, as a society, we do not talk about them and often take a colour-blind approach to race.
“Is our failure to discuss race part of the problem? This ground-breaking experiment will look at if it is possible to eradicate bias”.
The Write Offs
According to the National Literacy Trust, one in five adults are considered to be functionally illiterate, that means they are unable to read a text message, a road sign or use the internet.
The Write Offs is a two-part series hosted by Sandi Toksvig and explores Britain’s low adult literacy rate, while offering a group of adults aged 22-66 the chance to improve their literacy and change their lives.
Produced by Shine TV, the series focuses on eight adults who lack the basic literacy skills needed to navigate everyday situations.
From the 66-year-old town crier, who wants to be able to write a thank you letter, to the young mum who wants to be able to help her kids with their homework, they all hope to reduce the shame and stigma around illiteracy.
Each adult receives one-to-one tuition over four months and face a series of challenges to put their new reading, writing and spelling skills to the test.
The programme ends with a final test presented by Toksvig in front of an audience of friends, families and teachers.
Sandi Toksvig described working on the series as “one of the greatest honours” of her working life.
She added: “I have had the extraordinary pleasure of spending time with eight courageous people who have approached their deepest fears with humour and determination.
“Like me, I just know not only will everyone fall in love with them, they will review what they think they know about reading and writing.”
Paul Hollywood Eats Japan
Paul Hollywood is travelling to Japan to find out why it is fast becoming one of the world’s top food destinations and why food is such an integral part of Japanese culture.
Hollywood travels across the country tasting regional specialities and learns how to make some of Japan’s most famous dishes.
During his adventure his chopstick technique is criticised and he learns why eating on the street is a serious faux-pas.
His three-week journey begins in Tokyo, which is the largest megacity on Earth and is home to more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in the world.
In Tokyo, Hollywood discovers the city's obsession with pot noodles and visits a restaurant where diners eat alone in flavour enhancement booths.
Hollywood also takes part in a traditional Okonomiyaki cooking lesson, tries the world’s most expensive strawberry and eats pickled plum in fish semen.
During the series Hollywood also puts his voice to the test in a solo karaoke booth, indulges his trainspotter fantasy and risks his life during a karting tour on the streets of Tokyo dressed as a ninja turtle.
To guide him along the way, Hollywood is joined by comedians, chefs, rice farmers, Okinawan surfers and of course bakers.
Paul Hollywood commented: “Japanese food and culture is so unique, and each experience is totally different.
“As a novice traveller to the country it was a complete eye opener to me.”
Walking with Elephants
Explorer, conservationist and presenter Levison Wood is starting a new adventure, but this time he won’t be using a map or compass to lead him, he’ll be using elephants instead.
Wood joins the elephants as they begin their annual migration across Botswana, which requires him to travel over 650 miles on foot, something no other person has done before, but is something elephants have been doing for millennia.
The migration sees thousands of elephants travel from the salt pans of the Kalahari Desert to Okavango Delta to feed on the abundant vegetation.
Over the years, the dangers the elephants face has increased, seeing them face threats that are both natural and manmade, from poachers, to predatory wildlife, to dehydration.
Along the journey, Wood meets and works with local trackers and anti-poaching units to understand the struggles elephants face in reaching their final destination.
Levison Wood described the experience as “a dream come true” and appreciated the opportunity he got to see how this species survives even with the odds stacked against them.
He added: “Spending time with local Botswanans provided a fascinating insight into the lives of communities that live alongside the elephants and who have to deal with the difficult consequences of life on the frontline of human-wildlife conflict.”
Ruby Rose has swapped an orange jumpsuit for a superhero costume, as she takes on the role of the famous caped crusader Batwoman.
Rose plays Kate Kane – cousin to Batman – who is the first openly gay female lead in a non-animated superhero series.
Three years after Batman’s mysterious disappearance, Gotham is controlled by criminal gangs and the streets are infested with crime.
When the Alice in Wonderland gang targets her father and his security firm, Kane returns home to Gotham and takes on the legacy left by Batman, to become a dark knight vigilante, much to the frustration her father.
In a bid to protect her father and the city, Kane takes on the psychotic and malicious Alice (Rachel Skarsten) with the help of her stepsister Mary (Nicole Kang) and the resourceful Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson).
Straight talking and determined to clean up the streets of Gotham, Kane starts to find her feet in her role as Gotham’s newest superhero, but not without a few struggles.
The series is produced by Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television and also stars Meagan Tandy as officer Sophie and Elizabeth Anweis as Catherine Hamilton-Kane.
Further shows coming to Channel 4 include the documentary Unexplained, which focuses on the death of Stuart Lubbock who was found dead at the side of Michael Barrymore’s swimming pool following a party at Barrymore’s house. At the time, Barrymore was one of the most popular entertainers in Britain and to this day Lubbock’s death is still unexplained.
Another documentary, Falconio: An Outback Murder? looks at the infamous case of the death of Peter Falconio, who was supposedly attacked on the isolated stretch of the Stuart Highway in central Australia and was shot dead.
Living Wild is a natural history series that gives a behind the scenes look at the wild animals in the Kenya conservancy Ol Pejeta.
Peter: The Human Guinea Pig follows Peter Scott-Morgan, who after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease channelled his obsession with robotics into attempting to become the world's first human cyborg.
In Sophie Morgan: The Longest Route To The Games, the campaigner and Paralympics presenter Sophie Morgan will trike from India to Japan, travelling across the Himalayas through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Animated comedy Duncanville follows 15-year-old Duncan who is a typical, average teenager, but in his head, Duncan sees himself as nothing short of amazing. Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Wiz Kalifa and Ty Burrell all lend their voices to the animation.