FACTUAL ENTERTAINMENT ON CHANNEL 4
Channel 4 Factual Entertainment is a supercharged department spanning both Factual Entertainment and Contemporary Factual genres, and is home to a wide range of award-winning and ground-breaking constructed reality, popular documentaries, and factual features shows including The Island with Bear Grylls, The Jump, The Undateables, Gogglebox, Child Genius, The Great British Bake Off, Travel Man, and Naked Attraction.
Channel 4 Factual Entertainment aims to tell us something about the world – but crucially, it’s told in an entertaining way. Our shows aim to grab headlines with their audacity and ambition, whilst engaging viewers with their big questions. As well as purpose, they have mischief and originality in their DNA.
For 9pm, we continue to seek big-ticket reality shows about contemporary life. Think The Island, or Eden. They are entertaining social experiments but at their heart is a simple insight: does modern man have the skills to survive on a desert island? Or in Eden: what if we could start again?
In terms of territories, we are searching for the next turn of the wheel after survival and pared-down living? What are the big questions we ask ourselves about modern life?
Also consider how we can innovate stylistically. Embedded crews for instance on The Island and a combination of rig and embedded crew on Eden have transformed the ideas to make them feel raw, authentic and unpredictable. Travel Man is essentially a travelogue but now not as you would know it.
We also want to have fun with our large-scale event television: The Jump, Celebrity Island, the mind-bending events conjured up by Derren Brown, or the mind-blowing street magic performed by Troy, and Life Stripped Bare are all examples of shows that have a subversive, humorous twist that make them uniquely Channel 4.
10pm series are a priority for us. We want to engage young viewers with populist and entertaining shows on light-hearted themes along the lines of Naked Attraction or What Happens in Kavos. There is scope to have a more formatted feel in this slot, often based in one precinct. The themes and casting reflects the millennials’ worlds: i.e. for a generation who are used to swiping right and left, Naked Attraction turns dating on its head and tells the process in reverse – starting naked and ending fully clothed.
We are also looking for the next generation of entertaining, popular documentary series. These might be more constructed than they might present – such as The Undateables or Child Genius. Authenticity of subject-matter is key to them, with real-life legacy, but unlike a classic doc, they are cast and produced.
We want to continue to offer the remit for a young generation by finding accessible ways into difficult subjects. Dementiaville endeavoured to rediscover the individuals behind the disease by going back in time to find the person they once were. Kitchen Impossible with Michel Roux Jr showed that people with disabilities have the talent, ambition and will to succeed in the workplace.
We also want access with a twist: what are the latest incarnations of series like Big Fat Gypsy Weddings or 15 Kids and Counting – character-led, returnable, with extraordinary precincts?
We are likewise after access to institutions or household brands. This could be for purer access docs, e.g. Inside Rolls Royce or The Billion Pound Hotel, or using institutional access to construct an entertaining factual format, such as Undercover Boss.
We also want to engage 16-34s in other issues: access docs like Inside the Ku Klux Klan, A Very British Brothel or Sex In Class open up worlds that are unfamiliar and shocking, but use humour as their tool of engagement.
Our talent led Factual Features - from Kevin McCloud’s Escape To The Wild, Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, Travel Man with Richard Ayaode - remain best in class.
Talent is key – whether they are established or new. This past year, our shows have featured Kevin McCloud, Jamie Oliver, Jimmy Doherty, Bear Grylls, Richard Ayoade, Derren Brown, Troy and sexologist Goedele Liekens. Our talent offers warmth and accessibility but a subversive and entertaining take on the world e.g. Richard Ayoade in Travel Man and Gadget Man is an anti-lifestyle presenter. And in the forthcoming Britain Today, Tonight Kayvan Novak plays every character in a satirical news show. We are looking for more funny, female talent and talent we can we develop to offer a unique take on the world.
Head of Factual Entertainment
Commissioning Editor, Factual Entertainment & Entertainment
Genre Assistant, Factual Entertainment