Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries,has announced a number of new documentary series and singles on subjects ranging from the scandal of child abuse in English football to Greta Thunbergs mission to raise awareness of climate change.

Clare Sillery says: The BBC will always be the home of high quality, impactful documentaries, from the acclaimed series Once Upon a Time in Iraq to the recent Katie Price: Harvey and Me, which consolidated at over 4.2m.

In these extraordinary and often divided times, it is more important than ever for us to be telling powerful, timely stories which offer different perspectives on the human experience.  The documentaries I am announcing today demonstrate my ambition to grow and support the very best directing talent to make purposeful films that help us better understand the world in which we live; Im very grateful to all those taking part for sharing their stories with us.

Footballs Darkest Secret is a new three-part documentary series commissioned for BBC One and iPlayer about historical child abuse in English football, directed by BAFTA-winner Daniel Gordon (Hillsborough, The Australian Dream). The series will examine abuse that has taken place in youth football all across the country.

From the mid 1970s until the mid 1990s, several coaches and scouts connected to top football clubs abused their positions of power to prey on vulnerable, young boys – and got away with it for decades. Many survivors were shamed into silence until Andy Woodwards decision to waive his anonymity in November 2016 sparked hundreds of men to speak out. More than 800 victims have since come forward with 340 football clubs implicated and 300 suspects identified.

Footballs Darkest Secret is a co-production between Insight TWI, Passion Pictures and VeryMuchSo, in association with Ventureland. The executive producers are John Battsek (One Day in September, Searching for Sugar Man,  Ron McCullagh and Steve Boulton, the producer is Hugh Davies and the director is Daniel Gordon (Hillsborough, The Australian Dream).

Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World  is commissioned for BBC One and BBC iPlayer and co-produced with PBS, and follows environmental activist Greta Thunberg as she seeks to raise awareness of the accelerating climate change and spread her message, that we must act to drastically reduce our carbon emissions. 

Over the course of three episodes, Greta explores the science as she travels to extraordinary locations across the globe where the impact of a changing climate is glaringly obvious both for the planet and for the inevitable human costs. From the burning tar sands of the Canadian Oil Industry to the coal mines of Europe and the melting glaciers of the USA, she witnesses first hand the consequences of climate change and makes clear the reasons why she thinks something must be done.

Filming started in Autumn 2019 when then sixteen-year-old Greta took a year off school to embark on an international mission to spread her message and the world was transfixed as this teenager spoke truth to power, from diplomats at the United Nations to the worlds economic elite at Davos. As the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill, the cameras continued filming with Greta at home in Sweden.

Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World (w/t) is made by BBC Studios Production in association with B-Reel Films in co-production with PBS for BBC and the Executive Producer is Rob Liddel. It was commissioned for BBC One and BBC iPlayer by Kate Phillips, acting Controller, BBC One, and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries, History and Religion. The Commissioning Editor is Hamish Fergusson. BBC Studios will distribute the title globally.

Our Family and Autism (WT). In 2017 Paddy & Christine McGuinnesss four -year-old twins, Leo and Penelope, were diagnosed with autism and last year their youngest child, Felicity, four, was also diagnosed.

Like 2.8million other British families, the McGuinness family is still coming to terms with their ever-changing reality and are left with many unanswered questions.

In this powerful and moving documentary for BBC One and iPlayer, Paddy and Christine are bravely revealing their story to viewers, as they look within their own family and others to help them answer some of these questions.

The film is being made by Raw, producers of Chris Packham: Aspergers and Me and Nadiya Hussain: Anxiety and Me. Tom Barry will executive producer and Lucy Wilcox is the director.

Our International NHS is a one hour special for BBC One and iPlayer in which David Olusoga celebrates the immigrant workforce that has been the backbone of the NHS, from its inception 70 years ago to the current pandemic.

Throughout its history, the NHS has drawn in doctors, nurses, specialists and support staff from overseas, and without them the NHS would simply have collapsed, unable to deliver on its foundational promise of a universal healthcare system available to all.

Our International NHS (1×60) is an Upland Production. The Director and Producer is Tim Kirby and the Executive Producers are Charlotte Sacher, David Olusoga and Mike Smith. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Emma Loach.

Bad Influencer (w/t) will unlock the shocking rise and fall of Belle Gibson, one of Instagram’s first super-influencers.

By 23, Australian Wellness guru Belle Gibson had cultivated an adoring global following online with the story that she’d cured her own terminal cancer by eating a plant-based diet and using alternative natural therapies. Warm, glamorous and authentic, Belle’s appeal transcended Instagram as she scored a lucrative publishing deal, while winning awards and plaudits in the press. But there was one problem with Belle’s story: she never had cancer.

Seen through the eyes of those who adored her and those who exposed her, Bad Influencer will lift the lid on one of social media’s great mysteries: who was the real Belle Gibson – an ingenious con artist or a vulnerable young woman trapped in a lie?

It will also examine the £3tn global Wellness industry, asking why Belle was allowed to thrive for so long, and asking if the pursuit of eating ‘clean’ is driving some young Brits to ill-health.

Bad Influencer (w/t), a 1×60′ for BBC Three, is made by Minnow Films. It was commissioned by Fiona Campbell, Controller, BBC Three and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries, History and Religion. The Commissioning Editor is Emily Smith; the Executive Producer is Grace Reynolds; and the Director is Ziyaad Desai.

Gambling When Our Fun Stopped (w/t)  will tell the powerful stories of young men whose lives have been deeply affected by addiction to gambling. As the use of online gambling has increased dramatically over the past 5 years, so have concerns about rises in addiction, particularly among young men.

Driven by the experiences of those harmed by gambling addiction, the film will trace their descent into addiction, the attempts they made to navigate and overcome it, and the tactics employed by some gambling firms that make recovery so difficult.  Told with powerful testimony from friends and family, the devastating personal consequences of gambling addiction in young men are laid bare.

Gambling – When Our Fun Stopped (w/t), a 1×60 for BBC Three, is made by Blakeway North. It was commissioned by Fiona Campbell, Controller, BBC Three and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries, History and Religion. The Commissioning Editor is Emily Smith; the Executive Producer is Fran Baker and the Director is Candace Davies.

Jon Creamer

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