Channel 4's Chief Creative Officer, Jay Hunt today announced a number of bold new commissions that will see Channel 4 put people with mental health conditions to work on the channel's shows in 4 Goes Mad; open the ultimate hotel run by Gordon Ramsay and Mary Portas alongside some of Channel 4's biggest names in Hotel Britannia; and give job-seekers the ultimate test with the interview from hell in The Intern.
A raft of brand new drama commissions announced for the channel include Peter Mullan starring as Brighton crime boss turned grandee Richie Beckett in new series The Fear, and a new Michael Winterbottom feature length drama, Here and There, with John Simm and Shirley Henderson.
Speaking at the presentation for Channel 4's annual report, Jay Hunt said: "This year, we will tackle one of the biggest stigmas surrounding mental health by putting people with mental health conditions to work on Channel 4 shows and asking employers a simple question: We gave them a job; would you?"
"We'll also be taking on one of the biggest issues affecting our audience - youth unemployment - with two hugely exciting new shows. If Channel 4 were to run a hotel it would probably be the best hotel in the world and that's exactly what Hotel Britannia will aim to be as our biggest talent put themselves on the line to help kick-start careers for young people in the service industry. And, we'll be testing the mettle of the UK's job seekers with a nightmare week of work experience in The Intern - with a real internship at some of the nation's biggest companies at stake."
"These shows are about doing what Channel 4 does best - bringing complex issues alive with real creative flair."
The centrepiece of 4 Goes Mad - a two part event produced by Cineflix Productions will feature a cast of eight dynamic employees, some of whom have a mental health condition, who are out to prove the stereotypes wrong. They have agreed to take part in a variety of tasks and activities before a prestigious panel of employers whose job is to decide who they consider to be employable. A psychiatrist and psychologist will guide viewers through the maze of mental health conditions. In an added twist, some of the contributors will also have appeared 'undercover' on some of Channel 4's most popular prime-time strands in the week before the two-parter is broadcast, with clips of these appearances shown throughout the series.
As part of the week of programming, in Ruby Wax's Mad Confessions (wt), Wax - who herself has depression, will follow a number of successful business people as they disclose a mental health condition to their employers, friends or family. And, in Jon Richardson: A Little Bit OCD (wt), the comedian will delve into the world of Obsessive Compulsive Disorders - meeting people across the OCD spectrum to find out once and for all if he's a simply a demanding perfectionist or has OCD.
In Hotel Britannia (wt) some of Channel 4's biggest names will come together to get Britain working. Head boy Gordon Ramsay and head girl Mary Portas will be joined by some of Channel 4's biggest talent and together they will take over a hotel and turn it into a fund-raising machine and training ground for a range of currently unemployed people desperate for a break.
Each of the C4 faces will mentor two of the hotel's workers - train them and support them - and every day there will be a major event or challenge in the hotel designed to raise money and test the emerging skills of the staff. Meanwhile, members of the public can book to stay in the hotel or visit the spa and restaurant - and pay for the services on offer. Hotel Britannia is produced by Optomen.
In brand new series The Intern (wt), Channel 4 will offer talented, ambitious and deserving candidates a leg up the ladder in their chosen career by giving them the chance to win an internship with some of the most exciting employers in the UK.
To prove their mettle, the candidates will be thrown in at the deep end and, over the course of a week, will experience a super-charged version of life in their chosen field through a number of challenges and real-life scenarios devised to test their suitability for their chosen profession. The Intern is produced by Boundless.
Following the huge success of his campaign which mobilised over 800,000 people to preserve Europe's marine life, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Fish Fight returns bigger than ever in 2012. Not content with taking on the Eurocrats of Brussels over the outrageous practice of discards, Hugh is taking his Fish Fight global as he attempts to get more of our seas protected - from Antarctica to the Philippines. Fish Fight is produced by Keo Films.
In addition to Dennis Kelly's enigmatic thriller Utopia, Guy Hibbert's Complicit starring David Oyelowo, and the return of RTS winners Fresh Meat and Top Boy, Channel 4 today announced a further four brand new authored drama commissions from both established and emerging talent.
Announcing the new dramas, Jay Hunt said: "Channel 4 has never shied away from powerful, authored drama. With these new commissions we also have a wonderful range from the dark and menacing tone of The Fear to the comic warmth of Mad Fat Teenage Diary. All of these dramas are about backing great writers to say something truly distinctive."
The Fear, starring Peter Mullan as Brighton crime boss turned grandee Richie Beckett, in a new 4 x 60' drama from Richard Cottan (Wallander, Hancock & Joan) that chronicles the disintegration of a criminal mind. Beckett's legacy is under threat when the family firm, now run by his two sons, faces ruthless new rivals and his erratic and increasingly extreme behaviour inflames the situation. Can Richie and his family survive when his mind and world start imploding? A World production with WW Entertainment
My Mad Fat Diary takes a warm, hilarious and honest look at teenage life from the perspective of an overweight sixteen-year-old girl in mid 90s Lincolnshire. Adapted from Rae Earl's real-life diary and book of the same name, the 6 x 60' series is written by Tom Bidwell (Coming Up). A Tiger Aspect production.
Here and There sees award-winning director Michael Winterbottom return to Channel 4 with an ambitious single feature-length (1 x 120') drama starring John Simm as a prisoner and Shirley Henderson as his wife. The drama has been filmed over five years and is a tender and unique portrayal of one family living through a prison sentence. A Revolution Films production.
Run is an original four-part series set in south London over the summer of 2012, which reveals the interconnectedness of apparently separate lives through the stories of four people faced with choices in a world where survival is never a given. Created and written by newcomers Marlon Smith and Daniel Fajemisin-Duncan, Run is the debut drama commission from young indie AcmeTV.
Channel 4 can also confirm that the most talked about drama of this year, Homeland, will return for a second season broadcast in the autumn of 2012.