Channel 4 and Northern Ireland Screen have come together in an initial two-year partnership that will see the organisations working closely together to support and grow the production sector in Northern Ireland.

To kick it off, Channel 4’s head of Daytime and Features Jo Street is inviting indies to pitch programmes ideas for a four-part series which could, potentially, become a high volume, returning series on More4.

Channel 4, the broadcaster behind Derry Girls, will undertake a range of initiatives to help drive the growth of independent production and talent development which will include More4 Northern Ireland – a scheme designed to lead to a new returnable commission for a Northern Ireland based indie.

Channel 4’s managing director Nations and Regions Sinead Rocks said: “Northern Ireland has a rich history in film making and a wealth of creative talent and, working with Northern Ireland Screen, I want Channel 4 to be the catalyst that harnesses the next generation of talent and supercharges the nation’s broadcast industry.”

Northern Ireland Screen chief executive, Richard Williams said: “This marks another significant stage in the development of the Northern Ireland screen industry and underlines the importance of a joint approach to its future strategy… This initiative offers local producers wonderful opportunities, but the real winners will be viewers all across the UK.”

The aims of the partnership between Channel 4 and Northern Ireland Screen are to: see more Northern Ireland based indies successfully secure Channel 4 commissions; create more opportunities for NI talent to advance their careers in the television sectors; increase sustainability for NI indies; have NI indies view Channel 4 as their key broadcast partner.

The partnership will focus on three key areas: forging stronger relationships with the broadcast sector in Northern Ireland beginning with an Open Day on 22nd June; undertaking specific initiatives to support production capability in the nation; building upon existing in initiatives to develop talent and address skills gaps.

More4 Northern Ireland will be launched at the Channel 4 Belfast Open Day on 22nd June. Commissioners will liaise directly with Northern Ireland based indies to outline what the channel is looking to commission for More4. Indies will also be offered support and guidance on how to submit the best possible ideas.

As well as detailing the More4 Northern Ireland scheme, the Belfast Open Day will feature a range of talks, workshops and panels and cover topics such as audience trends, creative diversity, production finance and practical legal and business affairs advice.

Open to indies, key stakeholders and talent the events will be a mix of virtual and in-person events, including pre-booked one-to-one sessions with commissioners.

Channel 4 will also increase its training and development commitments in Northern Ireland. The broadcaster will arrange specific training for Northern Ireland indies on how to develop bold ideas of scale and also appoint an industry training provider that can deliver specific workshops and training, tailored to the needs of indies in the region and at no cost to the indies themselves. And, working with Northern Ireland Screen, Channel 4 will identify specific training needs in the nation and put in place training and skills provision to meet those needs.

This training will be in addition to training schemes already undertaken by Channel 4 through 4Skills, some of which focus on developing skills in Northern Ireland, such as regularly placing production trainees at Northern Ireland based indies and jointly funding the Factual Fast Track Northern Ireland scheme along with Northern Ireland Screen and the BBC.


Pippa Considine

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