Channel 5 has announced that it has commissioned shows from seven BAME-owned and managed production companies, as a direct result of its BAME indie initiative launched in September last year.

The initiative teamed nine small and medium-sized production companies with Channel 5 commissioners, with the aim of supporting their delivery of mainstream programmes for the channel.

Set up in collaboration with the TV Collective, Channel 5 has commissioned a range of projects from the following BAME-led indies; Meridian Line Films, Afro-Mic, Chatterbox, Ten66 Television, Doc Hearts, Big Deal Films and King of Sunshine Productions. Of the remaining two indies taking part in the initiative, Clockwork Films is in development with Daisybeck Studios ltd on a feature length documentary and Chapter 1 Films has entered into a funded development partnership with Knickerbocker Glory.

Big Deal Films has secured two commissions including Greatest Christmas Toys (1 x 120 minutes), taking a nostalgic look at the UK’s top Christmas toys and The Greatest Toys of all Time (3 x 60), exploring the social history of Britain through toys.

Afro-Mic will produce a 2 x 60 minute documentary Scenic Ireland: Coast to Coast, unveiling the hidden beauty and celebrating the enigmatic allure of Ireland’s coastline. Meanwhile, Meridian Line Films has been commissioned to produce a 2 x 60 minute documentary (title still in progress) taking viewers behind the scenes of one of Britain’s most popular national attractions, with more details to be revealed soon.

Sally Lindsay’s Poshest Homes Sleepover (3 x 60), produced by Chatterbox, will follow Lindsay as she takes viewers inside some of Britain’s multi million pound homes. Top 10 Ways to Add 20K To Your Home, produced by Ten66 Television, (1 x 60) will include experts such as Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen and Linda Barker, revealing the ten best and most cost-effective ways to improve the value of a house. Living with Chronic Pain (1 x 60), produced by Doc Hearts, will follow the struggles of those who have to endure chronic pain.

King of Sunshine Productions will produce Most Expensive Celebrity Break Ups (1 x 60), a special which features the stories of some of the biggest celebrities battling through marriage and huge financial splits.

Ben Frow, Director of Programmes, ViacomCBS Networks UK said: “It has been a delight to partner with Simone at the TV Collective to help diversify the production companies we work with and bring new perspectives to our programme-making. She has been a brilliant advocate of Channel 5’s BAME initiative and I’m thrilled to bits that each of these indies has landed a much-deserved commission. In order for our industry to become more representative both on and off-screen, it is imperative that we all take meaningful steps to embrace the range of talent that is out there.”

Simone Pennant, Founder and Director, The TV Collective commented: “This initiative which has resulted in seven BAME producers delivering programming to Channel 5 is an example of what can be achieved when a broadcaster moves beyond platitudes to take positive action. It is significant that Ben Frow and his team committed to this project many months before the killing of George Floyd, and saw it to completion during a global pandemic. This kind of result can only be delivered by broadcasters with Ben’s bravery, willingness to take action and dogged commitment. Given the current political climate, I encourage others to follow Ben Frow’s example and step up their efforts. It is now more urgent than ever.”

Five of the seven BAME owned indies commissioned – Meridian Line Films, Afro-Mic, Ten66 Television, Chatterbox and King of Sunshine Productions – are based in the regions of Yorkshire, Belfast, Sussex, Brighton and Manchester respectively.

The Meridian Line Films documentary has been commissioned for Channel 5 by Guy Davies. Scenic Ireland: Coast to Coastby Daniel Pearl, Sally Lindsay’s Poshest Homes Sleepover by Kit Morey, Top 10 Ways to Add 20K to Your Home by Greg Barnett, Living with Chronic Pain by Emma Westcott, Greatest Christmas Toys and The Greatest Toys of all Time by Dan Louw and Most Expensive Celebrity Break Ups by Adrian Padmore.

Jon Creamer

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