factual

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.

ITV factual controller talks pitching and "Netflix quality" productions

(Credit: Justin Yockney)

The ITV factual controller was in discussion with Stephen McQuillan, head of factual at Bristol indie Icon Films, at an RTS West of England event in September.

Her message to producers in the room was clear – it’s the 9pm slot that is important given there are few pre-watershed slots available. Clinton-Davis said: “I’m looking for very direct, simple propositions, which will appeal to a broad audience.”

BBC Two announces new factual commissions

(Credit: Sky)

Other commissions include the deeply personal David Harewood: Psychosis and Me, and innovative new formats such as Murder, in which a crime is seen through the eyes of the professionals who investigate it. It was also announced that successful existing series including Hospital, A House Through Time and Surgeons: At The Edge Of Life have been recommissioned. 

BBC Three seeks short films for British Asian summer season

(Credit: BBC)

British Asians are the biggest ethnic group in the UK, numbering over 3 million. Of this group the majority are young people, with around 60% of Pakistani and Bangladeshi Brits and just over 40% of Indians being under 30. The BBC is looking to represent the diverse culture of young British Asians in particular, dispelling the notion that they are a homogenous group and celebrating both the multiple countries of origin and distinct religions of the populations.