Channel 4 Drama’s aim is to commission and broadcast the most talked-about and original drama in the UK. We commission new work from both established and up-and-coming drama writers, in order to be a surprising, thought-provoking, entertaining alternative to the drama output on other channels.
That includes Russell T Davies’ landmark drama about the HIV epidemic It's A Sin, Jack Thorne’s game-changing single Help about the first wave of COVID; Emilia di Girolamo’s feminist slant on true crime, Deceit; Shane Meadows’ masterpiece of repressed memory in The Virtues; Charlie Covell’s darkly comic series The End Of The Fucking World, or Lucy Kirkwood’s controversial drama about the UK porn industry, Adult Material. We are also the home of Yorkshire-based returning series Ackley Bridge, which revolutionised the school drama genre, as well as award-winning, progressive soap Hollyoaks. Through drama, we are always encouraging audiences to look at the world in a new and different way.
Our main focus is on contemporary dramas which will resonate with a British audience. We will consider period drama, as long as the idea has a resonance in the present day, or feels like it is seen through an entirely fresh lens. The second half of the 20th century feels like the most likely period for us to land.
Priorities for new developments:
- 4 x 60’ limited series which can shine a light on who we are today. Series which have a strong and distinctive POV, like It's A Sin, The Virtues, The Accident, Deceit, Adult Material and Deadwater Fell.
- 6 x 60’ returning series, like prison drama Screw. C4 returning series are often genres which audiences understand and love, but with a completely fresh tone and approach – think Humans and No Offence.
- 8 x 30’ younger skewing series, which drive all important young viewers to All4. The End of the Fucking World series 2 was our most binged All4 boxset ever. Ackley Bridge has been reformed into 30’ episodes to better reflect the way young viewers watch TV.
We will also commission 8 x 30’ series with older protagonists, if the series feels noisy, compelling and bingeable. Think Russian Doll or Glow.
Lower tariff / international co pros
We are in the market for more commercial series which can deliver at a significantly lower tariff, like recent Swedish remake Before We Die.
We are also happy to partner on international co-productions, as long as the subject matter has enough UK content and recognisable talent. Again, these series will be broadly more commercial, good genres for us include psychological thrillers. We are unlikely to do much police procedurals as there are so many on other channels. Head of Acquisitions Nick Lee will take the lead on these projects, although a commissioning editor from C4 will always be across the creative.
What we aren’t currently looking for:
- Dystopias or anthologies
- Stories about Islamic terror or urban knife crime
- Biopics (tend to work best as singles and often lack urgency)
- Period drama which predates the 2nd half of the 20th century.
- New ideas for E4 as they are now focusing on unscripted.
- Pure YA – younger skewing ideas should have universal themes which also appeal to older audiences.
- Stories where sexual violence or rape is the catalyst for the main narrative
Single drama is not currently a priority, however we will absolutely make exceptions for pieces which feel as urgent and revelatory as Brexit: The Uncivil War or Help.
Due to the high volume of material we are receiving, we are revising our submissions process. Whenever sending scripts or treatments to the team, please also submit a brief overview of the project, along with the format and the slot it is intended for. We would ask that you only submit ideas which feel like they are relevant to the commissioning priorities as laid out above.
When sending in submissions to anyone in the department, please ensure you always cc Lucy Haig and Lauren Blumfield. While we are always happy to read ideas from new writers, please be aware that all submissions MUST be submitted via a production company. Channel 4 cannot accept unsolicited material from members of the public. Please allow at least 28 business days for us to come back to you with a response, and be aware the response time may be a fair bit longer.
To make sure we are inclusive and accessible to all, please let us know if you require any adjustments or assistance for meetings and communications with you.