Channel 4 announces three new First Cut documentary films

Channel 4 today announces the commission of three new documentary films for the First Cut strand. First Cut showcases original and bold documentaries by first-time directors as part of Channel 4's continuous commitment to nurturing new and diverse talent.

The upcoming films will chronicle stories from 21st Century Britain: from a spate of mysterious deaths in Manchester’s waterways, to the lives of some of the UK’s OAP bodybuilders. Each has been made by filmmakers making their first full hour-length productions for national television.

David Brindley, commissioner for the First Cut strand comments: “Channel 4 has a reputation for helping launch new British talent both on and off-screen, and we’re particularly proud of the impact First Cut has made in its six years. These new films will follow in the tradition of unflinching and unique storytelling from some of the nation’s most accomplished new directors.”

Recent First Cut films have received critical acclaim for their subject matter and filmmaking.

  • Filmmaker Marc Williamson won the Breakthrough Talent award at the 2015 BAFTA Television Craft for The Last Chance School, a documentary which met the staff and pupils at a boarding school for children with behavioural difficulties
  • An audience of 2.1 million watched Jamie Roberts’ challenging portrait of English far-right groups, Angry, White and Proud, now on the shortlist for a Grierson Award
  • Kicked Out Kids, directed by Natasha Zinni, received praise from charities for raising awareness around the topic of 18-year-olds being forced out of residential care

Brindley adds: “First Cut has had an excellent year and we’ve been delighted by the recognition from the audience and the industry alike. We continue to accept pitches for further original and eclectic stories to join the award-winning strand – these should be sent to the strand’s current curator, Rita Daniels, C4 Commissioning Executive.”

The three new documentaries announced today are:


The Pusher (w/t)
In the last six years, the remains of over 60 individuals have been recovered from the canals of Greater Manchester; most are young men. Now headlines have claimed a serial killer, dubbed by locals as ‘The Pusher’, could be at large in the city. This film from Darren Lovell will explore the truth behind the Twitter rumours pointing to this alleged serial murderer. Meeting the bereaved looking for answers and the experts placing pressure on authorities to open an investigation, this complex film explores the facts at the heart of a 21st Century urban mystery.

Production Company: BriteSpark Films
Producer: Will Robson
Executive Producer: Nick Godwin
Directed by Darren Lovell


Bus Pass Body Builders (w/t)
Bus Pass Body Builders tracks the hopes and dreams of Britain’s oldest muscle men and women as we follow five fascinating characters in the lead up to the World Finals in Miami. In today’s rapidly changing world, this film takes an alternative look at what it is like to be a pensioner in 2015. From Freedom Passes to family feuds, OAP dating to DIY tanning, we explore our ageing population in Britain through the eyes of those refusing to grow up.

Production Company: Popkorn TV
Executive Producer: Rory Wheeler and Colin Moxon
Produced and Directed by Rachel Millar


Alex Lewis (w/t)
Filmmaker Leonardo Machado charts the story of a man fighting to rebuild his life after a devastating infection took his limbs, parts of his face and his independence. Father Alex Lewis came down with a common cold in late 2013 which quickly developed into septicaemia and toxic shock syndrome. With less than a 3% chance of survival, doctors fought to save Alex. From arriving back to his family home and readjusting his relationships, to taking his first steps, this film delves into some of the raw moments that shape his days. Starting just days after he lost his last limb, Machado follows Alex’s incredible journey as he seeks his purpose in life, rebuilds his relationships and reinvents himself.

Production company: Twofour
Executive Producer: Andrew Mackenzie
Producer: Tanya Winston
Produced and Directed by Leonardo Machado

These three documentaries join the First Cut slate along with the soon to air film, Muslim Drag Queens.

Muslim Drag Queens
This compelling and powerful documentary allows unprecedented insight into the clandestine gay Asian or ‘Gaysian’ community in the UK. This community provides a vital lifeline and haven for young men who are unable to publically reconcile their sexuality with their cultural identity and traditions. Homosexuality is widely deemed to be forbidden within Islam and the exhibitionist nature of drag remains one of the ultimate taboos for many British Asians – forcing the entire scene underground. This sensitively-made film focusses on the stories of three of the 100-150 Muslim Drag Queens who face the seemingly insurmountable challenge of gaining acceptance and tolerance within their own wider communities. The film is narrated by Sir Ian McKellen.

Production Company: Swan Films
Executive Producer: Neil Crombie
Produced and Directed by Marcus Plowright

Information for filmmakers on how to submit a pitch for First Cut can be found at the 4Producers website:

Press contact: Nick Walker
Picture Publicist: Jamie Fry

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