factual

Mobeen Azhar explores racism in the US in new BBC documentary

Mobeen Azhar with a member of a far-right group in Oregon (Credit: BBC/Expectation Entertainment Ltd)

A Black And White Killing: The Case That Shook America centres on the tragic death of Larnell Bruce, a young black man who was run over outside a convenience store in 2016 by Russel Courtier, a member of white supremacist gang European Kindred.

CCTV footage of the incident was released shortly afterwards and went viral across the US, causing many to question if Bruce was killed because of the colour of his skin.

Jimmy Doherty generates buzz to save bees

Jimmy Doherty (Credit: Channel 4)

Can Jimmy Save the Bees? (w/t) sees Doherty explore the declining bee population in the UK and try to understand how the alarming trend can impact entire ecosystems that rely on natural pollination.

The former entomologist will attempt to revive the bee population to reduce the threat towards the viability of agriculture.

Based in Peterborough, Doherty will look at what can be done to solve the problem with local farmers, businesses, government officials and viewers.

Channel 4 commissions new factual programmes

David Lammy (Credit: Channel 4)

The new commissions include a documentary examining if neuroscience can explain the making of murderers, a documentary that follows the journey of an Olympic gold medallist embarking on a daring cycle across the English Channel, and an exploration into the untold stories of the Black Africans who died fighting for Britain in the First World War.

“These are programmes with impact at their core - the power to challenge and provoke, shock and inspire,” said Fatima Salaria, Head of Specialist Factual at Channel 4.

Kate Winslet and Daniel Radcliffe among new Who Do You Think You Are? line-up

Daniel Radcliffe (Credit: BBC/Wall to Wall Media Ltd/Stephen Perry)

Among the celebrities retracing their ancestors’ steps this season are Oscar winner Kate Winslet, Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, music mogul Sharon Osbourne and Jack Whitehall who will be joined by his father Michael.

The father and son double-act will unravel their family’s link to the Newport Rising of 1839, while television personality Mark Wright will explore his Spanish and Jewish heritage with the discovery that his ancestor was tortured by the Spanish Inquisition.

Channel 4 announces a host of new factual content

The new commissions include a travelling dance series, a new dating show and a documentary about a family-run sex shop.

Channel 4 has also announced the return of the hit factual series The £1 Houses: Britain’s Cheapest Street, which gave people the opportunity to buy a house for just £1 and turn it into their dream home. 

Charlotte Church: My Family & Me (w/t)

Singer Charlotte Church gives a glimpse into her home life in this one-off documentary.

Channel 4 promises more distinctive content for 2019

Ed Stafford will explore homelessness for Channel 4 (Credit: C4)

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.”

Reggie Yates’ diversity documentary among new BBC commissions

Reggie Yates (Credit: BBC/Ellis Parrinder)

The BBC Two documentary will be joined by a host of specialist programmes that range from the artistry of dance to new series The Novels That Shaped Our World (w/t), which will mark the 300th anniversary of Robinson Crusoe and the origins behind the British novel.

“This year we’ll be giving you a front-row seat to the best in arts and culture from celebrating the novel and the art of poetry with landmark programing, to encouraging participation in the arts with the return of Get Creative,” said Jonty Claypole, Director of Arts at BBC.

Channel 4 celebrates Christmas with festive factual shows

(Credit: Channel 4)

World’s Most Extraordinary Christmas Dinners will look at the lengths people go to make Christmas Day special.

The one-off programme follows people from very different backgrounds, including astronauts in space and a submarine crew, as they prepare Christmas dinner. 

The channel has also promised seasonal episodes of familiar shows.

First Dates Christmas will not only see new blind dates, but will also feature the return of some of the show's previous happy couples.

So you want to work in observational documentaries?

Havana Marking, Peter Beard, Lizzie Kempton and Peter Dale (Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)
At an RTS Futures event in early November, National Film and Television School head of documentaries  Peter Dale chaired a debate on what it takes to be a great observational documentary film-maker. 

One of the panel, Lizzie Kempton, was the assistant producer on the Grierson Award-winning BBC Two film, How to Die: Simon’s Choice, which tells the story of a man with an aggressive form of motor neurone disease who chooses to end his life.