Channel 5 Unveils New Doc Strand Modern Britain


LONDON: Channel 5 is presenting Modern Britain, a new documentary strand featuring thought-provoking and issue-based docs and talent-led factual series.

The first two titles to be commissioned for the brand-new documentary strand are the 90-minute programs The Abused and Rape (working title). The Abused is a new observational doc from Brinkworth Films that examines domestic violence. With the consent of the victim, the film uses covert new technology to capture in real-time the effect of domestic violence as it happens. The Abused is executive produced by Malcolm Brinkworth.

Meanwhile, the tentatively titled Rape looks at what happens in the aftermath of the crime. It explores what kind of support there is for victims and how the perpetrators are brought to justice. The testimony-led film from Lambent Productions documents life for individuals as rape investigations unfold. It will be executive produced by Emma Wakefield.

Also for the new strand, Channel 5 inked a talent deal with Michael Portillo for two new heritage series in 2017 and 2018. Portillo will host the four-part series Abandoned Britain, investigating Britain’s most interesting abandoned buildings. The agreement with Portillo will also see him present a second eight-part documentary series in 2018 that is yet to be announced. Both series will be executive produced by Jazz Gowans and Mark Powell for Transparent TV.

Channel 5 also commissioned ITN Productions to produce a new film, Black Britain: 50 Years On, based on Enoch Powell’s notorious “Rivers of Blood” speech. The film will explore multi-culturalism, immigration and race relations in Britain in the five decades since the speech.

In addition, following on the success of the one-off The Accused and Gangland, the films have both been re-commissioned as separate four-part series. Channel 5 has also commissioned additional three-part documentaries, including Inside the Sex Business and Inside the Gang.

Guy Davies, commissioning editor for factual, said, “With the launch of our Modern Britain strand, we’re tackling some of the most difficult and challenging subject matters, through incredible access, and working with brilliant off-screen talent. We are actively on the lookout for the best in British documentary to continue to drive ratings and noise for the channel. Channel 5 is committed to offering creative freedom and scope to directors so that they can bring a range of subjects to the screen within the Modern Britain strand. I’m keen to hear the best ideas and the most innovative ways of telling these stories. We’ll also fund them well. In the Netflix age, not only are our documentaries driving reputational change, films like The Accused are cutting through massively online, achieving record-breaking VOD figures and trending on social media.

“Michael Portillo is a great addition to our growing team of passionate and knowledgeable talent in factual. We’re thrilled to be working with him.”

Ben Frow, the director of programs for Channel 5, added, “The creative impact, innovation and brave issues tackled in our recent slate of documentaries have helped deliver extensive critical acclaim. As we turn 20, we’re stepping up our documentary-making ambitions and today’s announcement reinforces our clear commitment to the genre.”