Channel 5 Orders Chernobyl & Iraq Docuseries


Channel 5 has greenlit the docuseries The Chernobyl Disaster, as well as Michael Palin: Into Iraq, which offers a window into the country nearly 20 years after the start of the Iraq War.

Across its three episodes, The Chernobyl Disaster will take audiences on a journey through each pivotal moment on the Chernobyl disaster timeline—from the build of the plant itself, to the immediate aftermath and the unprecedented and wide-ranging impact on the world that followed. Produced by the Banijay UK company Remarkable Factual, the docuseries is fronted by Ben Fogle.

The Chernobyl Disaster will feature archive footage and interviews with experts, as well as unseen footage from the 2020 documentary Inside Chernobyl with Ben Fogle, which was also produced by Remarkable Factual.

Fogle said: “Making Inside Chernobyl was such an enlightening experience, so I’m thrilled to be able to continue that work with this new series, and I’m also pleased that some of the unseen footage from Inside Chernobyl will now see the light of day in The Chernobyl Disaster, as there is so much more of this tragic story to be told.”

Kitty Walshe, CEO of Remarkable Factual and RDF Television, said: “This is a timely and necessary documentary series to be bringing to audiences in the U.K. It’s a story of cover-ups, corruption and a countdown to disaster which needs to be told now more than ever.”

Commissioned from ITN Productions, the three-parter Michael Palin: Into Iraq follows Palin as he embarks on a 1,000-mile journey—following the course of the Tigris River from its source in eastern Turkey to the Persian Gulf, with most of his route going through Iraq. During his travels, he meets people of the country and discovers breathtaking landscapes, extraordinary historic sights and cultures.

Palin said: “I’ve never visited Iraq, and it’s not the easiest country to work in, which is why we chose it as the focus for this series. Scarred by conflict, Iraq is also the birthplace of civilization. Our story is one of survival, of a nation pulled back from the brink. We wanted to show how a country so long associated with war and violence is dealing with a fragile peace. The journey was an eye-opener, a succession of new experiences, new places and new people to meet, a fascinating adventure in a land where past, present and future are unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be back on the road.”

Guy Davies, Channel 5’s factual commissioning editor and VP of non-scripted U.K. originals for Channel 5 and Paramount+, said: “I’m thrilled to be working with Michael again and with the same ITN Productions team on another groundbreaking journey. It’s 20 years early next year since the Iraq War started, and that is so often how the region is defined. Michael’s journey goes much deeper, and what a guide to have!”

Will Smith, head of factual at ITN Productions, added: “Michael has a unique and rare ability to translate the often-complex history of a country in his documentaries. Iraq is a fascinating region with deep British connections, once the cradle of civilization and now one of the most misunderstood places on Earth. To follow Michael once again as he embarks on a journey he has long wanted to make, unlocking an understanding of the country as we have never seen before, will make for a fascinating and engaging series.”