First digital rig doc gives insight into undergrad life in 'Freshers'

  • Channel 4 unveils major new factual projects with Grayson Perry, James Rhodes and Rupert Everett
  • New 2014 programming line-up builds on award-winning success for Channel 4 Factual

Channel 4’s Deputy Chief Creative Officer, Ralph Lee, today announced a wide ranging slate of new factual programmes for 2014 including the broadcast of the first ever digital rig documentary Freshers, and major new authored projects with Grayson Perry, James Rhodes and Rupert Everett.

The new programming builds on the huge success of Channel 4 factual output over the last year which has dominated the documentary and factual categories at the recent Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, Royal Television Society Programme Awards and the Broadcast Awards - for programmes including Gogglebox, Educating Yorkshire, The Murder Trial and Richard III: The King in the Car Park.

Ralph Lee said: “One of the characteristics that has made Channel 4’s factual programming stand out from others has been our ability to back the unknown – whether it’s the chance of finding a King in a car park or the idea of making a show about people watching television.

“We will be doing that across 2014 as we build on the success of our returning brands and take risks with new subject matter and in new areas. Freshers is a revolutionary take on documentary making as, for the first time, we use the latest rig technology to provide a parallel digital narrative to that observed by the cameras.

“And we are continuing to provide a platform for some of the most powerful protagonists on television with a range of new authored projects from Grayson Perry, James Rhodes and Rupert Everett.”

Headlining the 2014 factual line-up is a revolutionary new series, Freshers – a ground breaking observational documentary series which uses brand new ‘digital rig’ technology to enable students to share their digital lives; for the first time giving viewers an unique insight into how a highly media-literate generation live and relate to one another in both the ‘real’ world and online.

Facebook was born on a university campus and smartphones, social networks and microblogging have now changed the fresher experience for modern students. Filmed over the autumn term and by loaning phones to 12 students, the four-part series seamlessly integrates the multi-media activity of the students into the documentary form – giving a new perspective on the daily trials and tribulations of undergraduate life.

In the first of a number of highly personal projects announced today, Turner-prize winning artist Grayson Perry, who won a BAFTA for his 2012 Channel 4 series All in the Best Possible Taste, returns to the channel with Who Are You? – a new three part series examining portraiture and identity – and one-off documentary, Grayson’s Greatest Design – following the creation of his biggest, riskiest and most ambitious work of art yet.

Actor Rupert Everett presents his own passionate exploration of the British sex industry in two-part documentary Love for Sale; and internationally renowned musician James Rhodes launches a major attempt to get unused instruments into the hands of those who need them in the three-part series, The Great Instrument Amnesty.

In Guy Martin’s Spitfire, motorcycle racer and lorry mechanic Guy Martin celebrates the people behind Britain’s most successful fighter plane – and joins an expert team on a project to restore the rarest Spitfire of all, the Mk 1.

Following in the wake of highly successful series which have provided an unprecedented view into some of our most well-known institutions, such as One Born Every Minute and Educating Yorkshire, Channel 4 will this year be focusing a lens on the world of police detention in 24 Hours in Custody and the UK’s elite fighting force in Marines. And, following the 2013 hit Educating Yorkshire, Channel 4 will shine a light on the work of teachers and pupils, in Walthamstow’s Frederick Bremer School – in Educating East London.

Looking cradle to grave, the channel takes an honest look at the adoption process in 15,000 Kids and Counting whilst in My Last Summer, it explores the emotional, cultural and ethical attitudes around dying in 21st Century Britain. In four-part series The Complainers examines the seismic shift in consumer power within British society; and in Kevin and the Mechanibals Kevin McCloud challenges three designers to turn an entire Airbus A320 into hundreds of amazing new products. World’s Best Diet sees Kate Quilton and Jimmy Doherty on a journey to find out which nation has the best diet to give them a long and healthy life and what we in Britain can learn from shopping baskets across the globe.

There is also the return of acclaimed series Gogglebox and 24 Hours in A&E, and building on the world exclusive The King in the Car Park, Richard III: The New Evidence reveals for first time extraordinary discoveries, made since the first announcement, that further re-write the history of the King’s reign.

Throughout the year, Channel 4 will continue its commitment to single and one-off documentaries covering a diverse range of subject matter with Cutting Edge, First Cut and True Stories.

For Press Enquiries please contact:

Full details of all the programmes are attached in Notes to Editors below.

15,000 Kids and Counting

Child protection levels in Britain are at a record high. On average, a child is taken into care in Britain every 20 minutes. Over 15,000 children were in need of adoptive families last year -double what it was only five years ago. With unprecedented access to the entire adoption process, this three part documentary series follows social workers, foster carers, birth parents and adopters as heart-wrenchingly difficult decisions are made about the future of some of Britain’s most vulnerable children.

The series begins with the most difficult decision of all – whether or not to permanently remove a child from their birth parents - offering a unique insight into both the challenging role of the social workers whose job it is to recommend whether a child should return home, and to the families fighting to keep their children.

Production: TrueVision

24 Hours in Custody

This is a new observational documentary series inside Luton Police Station. Filmed by a combination of fixed-rig and handheld cameras, this series will aim to provide insight into the day-to-day challenges faced by the staff and understanding of the workings of a busy police station.

24 Hours in Custody provides a unique perspective on policing in modern Britain – the unprecedented access allows viewers inside into a space they are likely to have never seen before including the cells and interview rooms. The series focuses on other vital aspects of policing including response, CID and investigation and visitors to the Enquiry Office.

Production: The Garden

The Complainers (w/t)

One of the distinguishing characteristics of the modern company is the complaints department. With every new step forward we make in communication technology – Twitter, Facebook, bodycams – comes another instrument in the armoury of dedicated consumer champions and complainers. And more and more companies now log on to find a barrage of complaints from frustrated customers. So what they need to do is fight back.

Now there is a growing army of complaint call handlers and twitter responders whose primary job is to field and disarm angry complainers. This series looks at complaints in council offices, utility companies and travel companies as the corporations try to use charm and tact in the battle for the hearts of minds of their customers.

Production: Dragonfly

Educating East London (w/t)

Frederick Bremer School is based in the heart of the community, embracing its diversity and inclusivity. The vision and drive of the new ambitious head teacher Jenny Smith and her staff has been recognised for bringing about rapid and considerable improvements in teaching and the progress of students. The students are warm, friendly and funny.

Through the eyes of fixed-rig cameras, this brand new series will observe the pivotal relationships between the students and their teachers as they work towards the all-important exams which help determine their futures as well as charting the friendships that help them cope in this quickly changing world. The commission follows last year’s critically acclaimed series Educating Yorkshire, which was Channel 4’s highest rating series of the year, peaking with 4.8 million viewers.

Production: TwoFour

Food Unwrapped

Jimmy Doherty, Kate Quilton and Matt Tebbutt travel the world in the food and science series that lifts the lid on what goes into our meals. The programme returns for an hour-long special in April looking at all things Easter, including chocolate, lamb and double-yolk eggs. The team will return in the summer with more remarkable industry secrets about our favourite produce.

Production: Ricochet


A ground-breaking observational documentary series employing a brand new technological innovation which enables students to share their digital lives, giving us a real insight into how they live and relate to one another in the ‘real’ world and online. By loaning phones to 12 students for the duration of filming (the phones were returned at the end of filming) we have empowered a highly media-literate generation to contribute some of their own material to the series and create a new relationship between documentary makers and their contributors.

It will be 4 x 60’ series, largely filmed over the autumn term, following 12 students through the highs and lows of their first term at university.

Production: Raw TV


Now in its third series Gogglebox is back with the same adored and highly-opinionated British households, as well as a few new additions. The loveable Leon and June, Steph and Dom the posh couple who like a tipple, hairdressers Christopher and Stephen, and Brixton’s own Sandy and Sandra will all once again share their opinions with the nation as to what’s good and bad about the week’s television.

From Saturday night entertainment juggernauts to the week’s big soap storylines, from hard hitting documentary series to gritty drama, the Gogglebox households offer sharp, insightful, passionate and sometimes emotional critiques of the week’s popular and topical TV shows, sparking debates and giving the audience the chance to share those ‘we said that!’ moments.
Production: Studio Lambert

Grayson Perry

Turner Prize-winning artist and BAFTA Award-winning presenter Grayson Perry is filming a new series and an ambitious special for Channel 4, both to be broadcast later this year.

In Who Are You? (w/t - 3 x 60) Grayson turns his attention to portraiture and identity. In a culture saturated with selfies, the moment when an artist tries to cut through the noise and nail us in a single image - an image intended to define us for posterity - has taken on a new significance. In each of these films, Grayson will spend time with Britons facing a moment in their lives when they need to define who they are, and then distil his impressions of each into a portrait.

In Grayson's Greatest Design (w/t - 1 x 60) we'll track the creation of Grayson's biggest, riskiest and most ambitious work of art yet: an extraordinary secular chapel near Harwich. Grayson was born and brought up in the county and this intricate, provocative building is his tribute to Essex Women in all their glory and his challenge to the reductive myth of the 'Essex Girl'. After speaking to a cross section of women, and gaining a true understanding of the Essex everywoman, he has dedicated the chapel to a mythical Essex woman called 'Julie'.
Production: Swan Films

Guy Martin’s Spitfire

The Supermarine Spitfire was Britain's most successful fighter plane and remains an iconic symbol of Britain’s resistance during the Second World War.

Spitfire fan Guy Martin joins the restoration team for its two year re-build. In this special film the motorcycle racer and lorry mechanic celebrates the people behind this famous fighter and its heroic pilots - the factory workers who risked their lives building the aircraft and the mechanics who worked around the clock to repair, reload and refuel the planes and speedily send them back into the skies to defend Britain. Guy’s mechanical skills were pushed to the limit as he took part in every part of the re-construction, following the original blueprints in forensic detail all the way to its inaugural flight. He even tested the fighter’s Browning machine guns to see their devastating firepower.

The complete re-building of Spitfire N3200 not only gives us an extraordinary look at the amazing engineering and skills involved in building the aircraft, but is also a fitting homage to the bravery of everyone involved in its service, from factory worker to ground crew; from pilot to the modern re-construction team.

Production: North One

The Great Instrument Amnesty

A new three-part series in which internationally renowned classical pianist James Rhodes aims to get Britain playing again – and demonstrate the power of music to change lives – by launching this country’s biggest ever ‘instrument amnesty’. When James Rhodes says music can save your life, he’s speaking from experience. For him, playing the piano was the route out of an abusive childhood that left him struggling with addiction problems, in and out of psychiatric institutions and suicidal. Now he’s turned his life around and is playing sold-out concerts across the world - but back home, he thinks we’re sleepwalking into a disaster.

James thinks that music education in this country is in a shocking state, and he’s most concerned about the group in greatest danger and greatest need: kids in primary school. James’ DIY solution begins with a Basildon primary school which at its last OFSTED inspection was put into special measures. The school has no instruments and teachers are already stretched to the limit. But as he tries to redistribute the ‘musical wealth’, he’ll need to draw the whole town into his big idea, persuading people to give up their oboes, flutes and violins and drawing in established musicians (and a surprise star or two) to offer their enthusiasm, support and expertise. If he can show what can be done in Basildon, he hopes to inspire the nation to join in – and to persuade to government to do its bit to make this musical revolution last.
Production: Fresh One

Love For Sale
Channel 4 has commissioned Swan Films to produce a documentary series that asks why people really buy and sell sex. Written with and presented by actor and writer Rupert Everett, Love for Sale is a highly personal take on “the world’s oldest profession”.

Prostitutes are often seen as either immoral individuals or exploited victims, but in this two-parter Rupert gets behind the stereotypes and hears the unvarnished truth from both sex workers and their clients. "Prostitutes" he says, "are the world's unacknowledged experts on our most intimate desires." “Rupert has a unique authorial voice and his opinions range from the theological to the ideological. It's great to see someone stand up so strongly for the dignity of women living with very difficult choices.” Sara Ramsden, Commissioning Editor, Specialist Factual.

Production: Swan Films


The Commando Training Centre Royal Marines, Lympstone, is renowned as the toughest and most exacting training site operated by any regiment anywhere in the world. It is here that the most feared soldiers at Her Majesty’s command are brought up to standard: where they undertake the hardest basic military training known to man. It is where Royal Marine Commandos are made.

Marines will follow the making of a Royal Marine Commando, filmed up close and personal as you’ve never seen them before. From the hapless unlikely lads who arrive at the foundation block, through their intense training and on to their passing out at the end of the course. The series will bring to life the inspiring stories of those seeking the coveted Green Beret, and those who are determined to help them achieve their goal.

Production: Two Four

Kevin and the Mechanibals (w/t)

Three Designers. One Plane. Zero Waste.

In this 90-minute special, Kevin McCloud challenges three designers to turn an entire Airbus A320 into hundreds of amazing new products in a giant ‘Up-cycling’ experiment. Their task is to find a new use for every single piece of the plane, leaving only an empty hangar behind them.

For a new generation of designers, recycling means something far more dynamic than sorting our bottles from our potato peelings when putting out the bins. They’re turning base metal into gold as they fashion desirable (and highly saleable) products from junk and scrap.

It’s a transformation on an unprecedented scale and Kevin’s largest recycling project to date. If they can pull it off, though, they’ll have shown that the sky’s (not) the limit.

Production: Arrow International

My Last Summer

Filmed over one year, My Last Summer brings together a group of five terminally ill people to really explore the emotional, ethical and practical issues around dying in 21st Century Britain. Thought provoking, challenging and poignant the series tackles this difficult issue openly and honestly.

Death is inevitable yet it is not a subject we find easy to talk about- most of us prefer to push it to the margins of our consciousness. The contributors in My Last Summer are aged 38 – 58. They have all been diagnosed with a terminal illness and as such can talk frankly, and with real affinity about their situations. Meeting regularly, staying at a residential manor house in the Cotswolds, the group talk openly, laugh, cry and at times disagree as they confront their own hopes, fears and regrets while they contemplate the reality of their own death.

Production: Love Productions

Operation Maneater

Veterinary scientist Mark Evans ventures into some of the world's worst wildlife conflict zones to find out why animals are killing humans and what can be done. Using high-tech tracking equipment and state-of-the art deterrent devices, he works out ingenious ways of trying to resolve these conflicts.

Where humans encroach on the habitat of big predators both sides lose out. There are vulnerable villages where an increasing numbers of people get killed by wild animals - and then animals are killed in retaliation, threatening the future of endangered species. The mission of this series is to find ways to break the circle of violence and protect both animals and humans.

In the three episodes Mark will investigate crocodile attacks in Namibia, Polar Bear attacks in the

Canadian Arctic and Great White Shark attacks in Western Australia.

Production: Windfall Films

Richard III: The New Evidence

In a world exclusive in February last year, Channel 4 broadcast a film that followed the extraordinary hunt for Richard III – the king discovered, against all the odds, under a car park. But identifying the bones was only the start of the story. In the months since, scientists at the University of Leicester and beyond have subjected Richard’s skeleton to intense scrutiny and – through another incredible stroke of luck – the team have found a living body double to help them test their theories. Their findings have reassembled the lost king’s life in fascinating detail and in this film they will be revealed for the first time. The discovery that Richard suffered from a potentially debilitating spinal condition known as scoliosis may have answered one 500-year-old question: there was an element of truth to Shakespeare’s play when he portrayed the king with a twisted spine. However, that answer threw up another mystery: if Richard had such an extreme spinal deformity, how could he have been the prodigious warrior that the histories claimed? Could he have really donned 30 kilos of armour, mounted a medieval warhorse, led a heavy cavalry charge over open ground and killed several of his enemies, before dying at the hands of Henry Tudor’s army?

Production: Darlow Smithson Productions

The Mill

Historical drama The Mill returns for a second series, of six episodes. Based on the extensive historical archive of Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire, and largely filmed there, this powerful series depicts Britain at a time when the industrial revolution is changing the country beyond recognition. The series runs from 1838 to 1842, starting as the effects of the new poor law bite, the struggle for the working man to get the vote takes hold and culminates in the famous Plug Riots.

Production: Darlow Smithson Productions

World’s Best Diet

A 90 minute list show presented by Jimmy Doherty and Kate Quilton counting down from 50, revealing the world’s worst to best diets. Jimmy and Kate will go on a journey to find out which nation has the best diet to give them a long and healthy life and what we in Britain can learn from shopping baskets across the globe. They will investigate the science of the health-giving properties of foods and the historical overview of why some countries became fat and some remain thin and healthy.

In the end, the show will culminate in the ultimate shopping basket – a diet of foods sourced from all over the world, available to buy here, that will help us towards a long and healthy life. The list has been compiled with the backing of expert nutritionists and human biology consultants.

Production: Fremantle Media

Related Links


Login to view contacts


Register for Press Access