Channel 4 Boosts Factual Team


LONDON: In a move designed to bolster its factual department, Channel 4 has added former Channel 5 exec Michelle Chappell to the documentaries commissioning team, among other appointments.

Chappell, who has served as commissioning editor of factual, news and current affairs at Channel 5, is joining Channel 4’s documentaries commissioning team. She will report to Nick Mirsky, the head of documentaries.

During her time at Channel 5, Chappell was responsible for more than 1,000 hours a year on the channel, commissioning popular factual and documentaries for the 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. slots. She also oversaw daily shows The Wright Stuff and 5 News. Since joining Channel 5 in 2011, she has commissioned shows such as My Violent Child, Killers Behind Bars, Billion Pound Patients and Too Tough to Teach. She joined Channel 5 from BBC London Factual, where she launched The One Show, Crimewatch Roadshow, National Treasures LIVE and re-launched Watchdog

Chappell said: “I’ve always admired the documentaries department at Channel 4, and I can’t wait to get started and join such a creative team. I’m passionate about creating TV shows we all want to watch and enjoy. It’s a great opportunity to work with producers to find both stand-out documentaries and a new wave of returning series with broad appeal.”

Mirsky added: “We are really thrilled that Michelle is joining us. Her experience makes her the ideal person to push forward our commissioning ambitions for new popular 2000 series and strong headline-grabbing documentary ideas for 2200.”

In addition, filmmaker and executive producer Alf Lawrie will join the specialist factual commissioning team, along with Shaminder Nahal, currently deputy editor of Channel 4 News. Lawrie and Nahal will report to John Hay, the head of specialist factual.

Lawrie is a filmmaker with experience directing and producing factual-entertainment series and documentaries. He was recently the executive producer for the third season of The Island and for All Change at Longleat, an observational documentary series for the BBC. Nahal has been the deputy editor of Channel 4 News since 2012, and prior to that, she was the deputy editor of Newsnight.

Ralph Lee, the deputy chief creative officer and head of factual who oversees the overall factual commissioning team, commented, “I’m really excited to have Alf, Shaminder and Michelle joining the factual team. The long-term renewal of the existing factual slate will really benefit from their contributions.”

Hay said: “I now feel surrounded by an embarrassment of brilliance in specialist factual—with Shaminder and Alf joining Rob Coldstream and Sara Ramsden, it’s a team of curious minds and mischievous enthusiasts, each with their own take on the world and each with incredibly strong journalistic, editorial and creative instincts. I can’t wait to see what they do when they join forces with each other and with the indies.”

Lawrie added: “I’m thrilled to be joining the specialist factual team at Channel 4. The department is so varied, ambitious and innovative. It’s a wonderful opportunity to help foster those values, and work with some of the best program-makers in the industry.”

Nahal remarked: “I’m so excited to be joining the specialist factual team at Channel 4 at such an extraordinary time in the world, where there’s so much to explore, explain and reveal. I can’t wait to take on new challenges at a broadcaster that takes risks, cares about diversity and makes such compelling TV programs.”