Documentaries

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Channel 4 has world-class reputation in Documentaries based on its history of bold storytelling and innovative use of technology. Over the past thirty years, many of our most significant commissions have been the result of taking on ideas no one else would have been brave enough to try. And our biggest single note to producers has always been to bring us the most daring and controversial ideas.

Series

One of our recent successes has been pioneering the use of the installed camera rig in 'precinct' documentaries, as in the award winning One Born Every Minute, 24 Hours in A&E and Educating Essex. These multi-part series have reinvigorated classic subject territories with immediacy and unexpected humour, and have brought new audiences to documentary. We are continuing to look for opportunities to take the rig into new and more surprising spaces.

We also commission a very wide range of different shorter series. These include more classically observed series made with privileged access to institutions, as well as constructed or formatted series like Making Bradford British. Series ideas should feel thought-provoking, modern and intelligently provocative.

And we are keen to receive fresh, surprising format ideas. We are the unit that developed some of the most long-running C4 formats like Wife Swap and Secret Millionaire, and commissioning a new generation of these series is a serious ambition for the Department.

Don't hold back. If you have ideas that are agenda setting, risky, controversial, and could never have been made before, we want to hear about them. Our strongest commissions are often ones that, at the outset, feel the most dangerous.

Singles

Most of our single films are broadcast in our three established documentary strands, all of which are in the process of being refreshed.

CUTTING EDGE, our primetime home for Britain's most talented directors, is returning with a more focussed ambition to commission compelling and arresting films about contemporary British stories. Films in this strand are likely to be multi-narrative and newsworthy. Among those in production are films which take viewers inside Britain's first every stalking clinic, explore the choice surrounding gender identity disorder in the under 5's, and offer exclusive access to Ian Brady's legal and mental health team preparing for his upcoming public hearing.

Our feature length documentary series TRUE STORIES has recently moved to C4 from More4 witha run that included the critically acclaimed Gypsy Blood and My Social Network Stalker. We are looking to build on this with more stand-out "stranger than fiction" stories and unique authored takes on hidden communities in Britain and abroad. This is also the home for a small number of theatrical release documentaries.

First Cut exists to launch the careers of ten new factual directors with this career-defining strand. The films are commissioned for a one hour, 11pm slot. It is open to anyone who has not directed a 60 minute film for broadcast on a terrestrial channel or BBC Three. Pitches should be send to David Brindley, you can read the full brief HERE.

In addition, we look out for other arresting and entertaining single films, for fast turnaround commissions that can bring a documentary perspective to a fiercely topical subject like Terror at Sea: The Sinking of the Concordia, and for singles which can serve as pilot programmes for potential series. And we are keen to develop more onscreen C4 talent who could become documentary faces of the Channel in the way that Katie Piper and Jamie Oliver have.

The Schedule

Our programmes are scheduled in a range of evening slots and we encourage programme makers to think about where their ideas might play in the Channel 4 schedule.

Sundays at 2000:

- Popular and entertaining character-based series like The Hotel or World's Squarest Teenagers.

Weekdays at 2100:

- Blue chip, reputational and inspirational series that take us inside British institutions. Some of the most successful and long running of these series employ the rig, but this can also include more conventionally shot series like Coppers, or shorter three or four part series.

- New formats designed to cast light on contemporary life and relationships.

- Shorter and more provocative series with the potential to become talking point television.

- CUTTING EDGE and other single documentaries with mainstream mid-evening appeal.

Weekdays at 2200:

- Popular and entertaining single documentaries or series that can take us into darker stories or more adult worlds.

- TRUE STORIES

Commissioners

The team commission across a range of the department's output, but each commissioner has priority areas. Nick Mirsky concentrates on documentary series and formats. Emma Cooper commissions CUTTING EDGE, Anna Miralis TRUE STORIES, and David Bridley FIRST CUT, but they will all also commission other single films or short series.

For multiplatform contact details click here.

For any diary queries please contact the relevant Genre Assistant, for all other programme and commissioning queries, please contact the relevant Programme Coordinator

Contacts