Channel 4 pushed the boat out on Tuesday night with its preview of the next iteration of factual shows for the channel.
A champagne-and-canapes reception, held at London’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery, heralded deputy chief creative officer Ralph Lee’s introduction of new programming, which he undoubtedly hopes will keep drawing audiences as big as those for drama. Lee described presenters James Rhodes, Grayson Perry and Rupert Everett as "powerul protagonists."
The next big campaigning series, significantly airing in the run up to the general election, is Fresh One’s The Great Instrument Amnesty, a cross between Jamie’s School Dinners and The Choir. Pianist and campaigning presenter James Rhodes declared his passion for the project, which he hopes will lead to more children playing an instrument, swearing as gutturally as violin virtuoso Nigel Kennedy, or Gordon Ramsay. He then played on a Steinway, under the glamorous architecture of the Gallery, grabbing attention by performing a composition for the left hand only. Very Channel 4.
Keeping up the momentum with major rig shows, The Garden is following 24 Hours in A&E with 24 Hours in Custody, filmed in and around Luton Police station, including cells and interview rooms. The combination of rig and handheld footage in a volume series led to private speculation amongst producers mingling at the preview about the size of the budget.
The first ever digital rig doc, four-parter Freshers, got top billing, described as "revolutionary" TV. It will be interesting to see if spying on text conversations, emails and instagrams can make compelling viewing. But after Channel 4’s triumph watching people watching telly – and in the hands of Raw TV – there’s every possibility.
Studio Lambert’s Gogglebox has slowly but surely become a jewel in the crown, the promotional showreel including a clip of Steph and Dom in an intimate clasp (not sure how they could have been glued to their TV sets at that angle…).
The channel has landed a coup with Rupert Everett investigating prostitution in the UK in Love for Sale, delivered by executive producer Neil Crombie and Swan TV, who are behind Grayson Perry’s documentaries.
Perry plugged his two impending shows, sporting a to-the-floor rainbow Pierrot costume and protesting that he hoped that he remained a risk to the channel.
Perhaps significantly Ralph Lee referred to "our ability to back the unknown", rather than the usual language of risk taking. Either way chief creative officer Jay Hunt and chief executive David Abraham will be hoping that this next tranche of factual can deliver at every level.
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