Channel 4 Commissions New Dance Drama


Channel 4 has ordered Dance School (w.t.), a new coming-of-age dance series, from Duck Soup Films.

Created by Lisa Holdsworth (A Discovery of Witches, Call the Midwife) and Theresa Ikoko (Rocks, Girls), the show will feature characters workshopped with support from the Young Audiences Content Fund and inspired by true stories from inner-city Leeds. Ten industry training placements will be available to individuals with no previous broadcast experience.

Dance School will follow a Saturday dance class group led by teacher Jackie and consisting of Puppy, Kobby, Liam, Tim, Francesca, Tash and Nohail, each unique, emotionally complicated and independently minded.

4Skills, Channel 4’s nationwide training and development strategy that aims to create over 15,000 opportunities in 2022, and the National Film and Television School (NFTS) have partnered with Duck Soup to provide the ten paid full-time placements on the production.

Street casting and recruitment will take place this summer, and production is set to begin shooting this fall in and around Leeds.

Executive producers are Ikoko, Holdsworth, Rebekah Wray-Rogers, Jessica Brown Meek, Libby Durdy, Kathryn O’Connor and Jessica Straker. Holdsworth, Dipo Baruwa-Etti, Kamal Kaan, Zodwa Nyoni, Phoebe Okeowo are writing the series, while Sara Dunlop is directing. Choreography will be led by Sharon Watson and Dawn Holgate.

Caroline Hollick, head of drama at Channel 4, said: “I am thrilled that my very own home of Leeds is the hub of such a brilliant and activating series, bursting with irresistible dance numbers. Dance School is a heartwarming portrayal of the hardships young people are increasingly exposed to, but it’s equally a celebration of inspiring and authentic stories that will resonate with our viewers. It’s important that Channel 4 not only reflects the voices of the nations and regions but also continues to support growth and training to individuals. I’m delighted that by partnering with Duck Soup and the NFTS, 4Skills can open doors to the next generation of emerging talent, ensuring the creative sector remains accessible to all.”

Rebekah Wray-Rogers, co-founder of Duck Soup Films, said: “We are beyond delighted that Duck Soup’s first drama commission is born and bred in our own city and commissioned by Channel 4 since its crucial move out of London up to Leeds. We have been enormously lucky to collaborate with such an eclectic group of talented creatives to build Dance School and are buzzing with excitement to finally bring this exceptional series to the screen.”

Meabh O’Donovan, head of NFTS Leeds, said: “The NFTS is renowned for offering world-class training, and we are excited to bring that expertise to making the series of Dance School a success. We can’t wait to start the search for ten Leeds-based trainees who will train with us and then become an integral part of the crew. If you’ve never imagined film and television as a possible career, come along to a workshop in July; it could change your life and become a gateway to fantastic new opportunities within Yorkshire’s screen industry.”

Jackie Edwards, head of theYoung Audiences Content Fund, commented: “The Young Audiences Content Fund were delighted to support both the development and production of Dance School. We were drawn to the inclusive and authentic approach, one that will beautifully reflect an underrepresented community in the U.K.—it is exactly the sort of production that the Fund set out to support.”

Caroline Cooper Charles, chief executive and executive producer for Screen Yorkshire, added: “It’s a joy to join forces with such fantastic partners to support Duck Soup and to bring audiences a story whose heart and soul is rooted in one of our region’s most vibrant cities.”