ITV has unveiled two new series orders at the Edinburgh TV Festival – Grand Slammers, about rugby stars forming prisoners into a rugby team, and Gino and Fred’s Emission Impossible, in which the two presenters travel through Austria in as green a way as possible.

In Grand Slammers, Rugby World Cup-winners Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Phil Vickery, Jason Robinson, Will Greenwood, Ben Cohen, Mike Tindall and Matt Dawson will go behind bars to face a unique challenge, in a new two-part series, which will land during this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Grand Slammers, a 2×90 series, produced by Remarkable Factual (a Banijay UK company), will see the sporting heroes enter HMP The Mount prison – home to one of the only remaining rugby pitches inside an adult male English prison – to attempt to build and train a team of inmates strong enough to compete against a formidable rival, the Australians.

The series will “offer a vivid insight into the power of sport to change lives” as the England legends open up to inmates about how rugby had a profound impact on them during formative periods and gave them a purpose in life.

The finale of the two episodes will see the legends play alongside the inmates they’ve trained to recreate the historic Rugby world cup final from 20 years ago…this time against a team of ex-pat Australian rugby players.

Grand Slammers is commissioned for ITV by Kate Teckman, Head of Development, Factual Entertainment.

Kate Teckman said: “In this new series we’ll see some of the greatest sporting heroes England has ever produced reunite on the pitch for the first time in 20 years to go into a prison and build a rugby a team with men who live their lives behind bars.  For some of these England legends, rugby presented a positive pathway and an opportunity to fulfil their potential.  So, with re-offending rates from ex-prisoners at an alarming level, these World Cup winners are engaging with young men who’ve made big mistakes to show them how the game they love can offer the possibility of taking positive steps to move forward.  At a moment when rugby will be in the spotlight, during this autumn’s Rugby World Cup, Grand Slammers will provide a revealing insight into both England’s legends and the power of the sport that has defined so much of their lives.”

Grand Slammers was developed by Matt Winter and Executive Producers for Remarkable Factual are Helen Simpson, Tim Allsop, Jo Smith and Kitty Walshe.

Kitty Walshe, CEO Remarkable Factual and RDF, said: “Grand Slammers would not be possible without the collective efforts of John Gormley and his staff, as well as our incredible sporting heroes who won the hearts of the nation 20 years ago.  Everyone involved passionately believes that rugby is a sport that has the power to change people’s lives and what we see unfolding across the series is often raw with a range of emotions surfacing as our England legends bring their full commitment to their work with the inmates.”

In Gino and Fred’s Emission Impossible from Betty TV, globetrotters Gino and Fred will attempt to eat, sleep and travel through Austria as sustainably as they can “whilst seeking out truly inspirational locations and people.”

Inspired by his children, Fred has genuinely become more eco-conscious and his concerns were accelerated by watching his beloved Europe burn in 40 degree temperatures this summer. Therefore, he’s determined to re-educate, re-cycle and re-engineer his eco-sceptic sidekick in their own backyard.  Can they green up their act and become fully petro-flexible modern men, while still enjoying la dolce vita on a rip-roaring food odyssey?

Gino and Fred said: “We’re thrilled to be upcycled by ITV for another action-packed adventure and can’t wait to cook up some fantastic sustainable dishes whilst hopefully stirring up debate around these important issues.  We might not come up with the recipe to save the planet but we hope to entertain, inform and inspire the audience to think about making changes in their own lives.”

Gino and Fred’s Emission Impossible is commissioned for ITV by Nicola Lloyd, Factual Commissioning Editor and Sue Murphy, Head of Factual Entertainment.

Nicola Lloyd said: “Gino and Fred have embraced their fair share of adventure over the years, but none more important than doing their tiny bit to save our planet … one organic vegetable at a time. Prepare for epic locations, mouth-watering food and a friendship that’s as durable as a reusable keepy cup.”

Betty TV, part of Objective Media Group, an All3Media company, are the producers behind Gino’s ITV series Gino’s Italy and Fred’s hit reality competition series Fred’s Last Resort.

Joint Creative Directors Helen Cooke and David Harrison said, “We’re not sure Gino and Fred can solve climate change overnight, but we know they’ll have a few laughs trying and we’ll be with them every step of the way!”

Gino & Fred’s Emission Impossible will be executive produced by Charlotte Smith with Gavin Whitehead as showrunner. The series will be distributed by All3Media International.

Jon Creamer

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