Channel 4 has commissioned Curious Films to make Paula (2×60’), a two-parter that explores the life and legacy of the real Paula Yates behind the tabloid-driven narrative.

The programme will draw on an “extraordinary” set of never-before-heard interviews, the words of some of those who knew her best and a wealth of archive to tell her story in her own words.

As a TV presenter, journalist and author famed for her sharp wit and flirty charm at the helm of The Tube and The Big Breakfast, Paula Yates interviewed everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Robbie Williams. She sat at the heart of pop culture and dominated the airwaves and headlines for two decades.

Yet Paula’s own fierce, funny, intelligent spirit alongside her incredible skill as a television presenter has been largely written out of history by a tabloid press which viewed her instead through the prism of the men in her life – Sir Bob Geldof, and the man they accused her of leaving him for – Michael Hutchence.

At the heart of Paula are four extraordinarily compelling interviews recorded in 1998 and 1999 before her death in 2000, which have never been heard before, and in which she frankly and eloquently discusses the positives and pitfalls of her life. Alongside them, the series contains testimony from the friends and close colleagues who knew the real Paula Yates, together with some of the many other interviews she gave and programmes she presented, and all set against the music and cultural touchpoints of the era.

Shaminder Nahal, Head of Specialist Factual at Channel 4 said: “Paula Yates exploded onto our screens in the very first week that Channel 4 came on air in 1982, a whirlwind of wit, verve and charisma – a totally unique style. Looking at what she achieved now, it feels like no-one has ever quite matched her as a TV presenter. So as Channel 4 reflects on 40 years, it feels right to look at her life and career, and what an impact she made. As ever, Curious Films has made a riveting and sensitive series that will, I hope, introduce Paula to a new generation.

Charlene Chika Osuagwu, Producer, Curious Films said: “Paula is the real story of a singular woman who was both ahead of her time and totally of it, which explores how she shaped, and was shaped by the seismic changes in British culture and celebrity and what it meant to be a successful woman in that era. Paula’s battle to ‘have it all’, torn between the duties of family life and her own personal career and happiness in the magnifying glare of a world determined to judge her, provide a powerful lesson for today’s world and women fighting the same issues 40 years later.”

Paula (2×60’) is a Curious Films production for Channel 4. It is produced by Charlene Chika Osuagwu, directed by Charlie Russell and the executive producer is Dov Freedman.

Curious is currently discussing international rights for the programme.

Curious Films’ recent commissions include Running With The Devil: The Wild World of John McAfee (Netflix), Making Sense of Cancer with Hannah Fry (BBC Two), Wagspiracy: Vardy vs Rooney (BBC3/iPlayer), National Treasures on Trial (Channel 4), Reclaiming Amy (BBC Two),  Squad Goals (BBC Three), and Caroline Flack: Her Life and Death (Channel 4).

Picture: Paula / Curious Films / Ch4 / Getty

Jon Creamer

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