Sky has ordered five new feature length documentaries and series including a look at the life of Mother Teresa and the under-reported story of the rise and fall of Michael X, a revolutionary once heralded as the UK’s answer to Malcom X.

Two stories about women making history in their respective sporting fields include Queen of Speed, which chronicles French rally driver Michèle Mouton’s battle to rise to the top of the male-dominated world of rallying in the 70s and 80s. Right to Fight tells the untold story of several female boxers who pioneered women’s boxing in 70s New York.

The Scream will unravel the story of the heist in which Edward Munch’s iconic 1893 painting The Scream was stolen during the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway.

The new shows come from Minnow, BBC Studios, Drum Studios, RAW and Curve Media.

Sky’s Director of Documentaries and Factual, Poppy Dixon, said: In its first year, Sky Documentaries has seen stellar performances for films and series that cement the channel as the home of world-class and diverse real-life stories that span the globe. These five new titles join an incredible slate of content and reflect the scale, quality and ambition of the channel.”

The new shows are currently either in pre-production or production and will air in late 2021 or throughout 2022.

The new shows

Biographical Documentaries

Mother Teresa: For the Love of God? (3×60”)

Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary produced by Minnow Films in association with Sky Studios.

Over three episodes, Mother Teresa: For the Love of God? takes viewers on a remarkable ride through the twists and turns of an improbable life, revealing the extraordinary truth about one of the most recognised yet enigmatic, controversial, and complex figures in contemporary history.

Told through the multiple viewpoints from those who knew her best and drawing on archive and personal letters where we hear from Mother Teresa in her own words, this series tells the astonishing story of a latter-day Saint.

Directed by Benedict Sanderson and Ziyaad Desai, Executive Produced by Sophie Leonard and Sophie Jones and Produced by Dearbhalie Flynn.

Mother Teresa: For the Love of God? is a Sky Original documentary produced by Minnow Films in association with Sky Studios and commissioned by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual.

The Three Lives of Michael X w/t (1×90”)

Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary produced by BBC Studios in association with Sky Studios.

TX: October 2021

This is the untold story of the rise and fall of Michael X otherwise known as Michael De Freitas or Michael Abdul Malik – a man once heralded as the UK’s answer to Malcolm X who spent the end of his days on death row, and eventually executed by signed order of the Queen.

The feature length documentary directed by James Van der pool (The Surgeon’s Cut, Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners, Black and British) will provide a chance to re-evaluate this divisive historical figure, a man who lived multiple lives in one lifetime and knew everyone – from Muhammad Ali to William Burroughs, Malcom X to John Lennon – but few today have heard of him.

This intimate portrait of Michael’s life and times will explore a defining period of modern British history. Reflecting all sides of the story – with insider testimony from those who knew him, unseen archive and dramatic reconstruction – the audience will be taken from Michael’s childhood in Trinidad, to the genesis of the British Black Power Movement and the intoxicating days of counterculture and Notting Hill Carnival, before returning to the Caribbean where Michael was tried and convicted of murder.

The Three Lives of Michael X is a Sky Original documentary produced by BBC Studios’ Documentary Unit in association with Sky Studios and commissioned for Sky by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual.

Sports Documentaries

Queen of Speed (1×90”)

Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary produced by Drum Studios in association with Sky Studios.

Queen of Speed tells the incredible story of one woman’s battle to rise to the top of the male-dominated world of rallying in the 70s and 80s.

From the roads of Monte Carlo to the dirt races in Africa as well as in America/USA, Michèle Mouton defied the odds as she broke her way into the world of motorsport at a time when rallying was at its fastest and most dangerous. She made history as the first and only woman to win rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship and the last woman to compete in top-level rallying, cementing her reputation as one of the greatest motorsport drivers of all time.

Directed by award-winning Barbie MacLaurin (The Abused, The Drug Trial) and produced by Drum Studios, Queen of Speed will be driven by compelling interviews with Michèle, her co-driver, her family, her teammates and her rivals. Featuring spectacular footage of some of the most dangerous races on earth, as well as previously unseen cinematic archive shot by an embedded cameraman who captured the behind the scenes politics and pressures facing Michèle, this film takes viewers on a white-knuckle ride through this exciting time in sporting history.

Queen of Speed is a Sky Original documentary commissioned by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual. Hayley Reynolds is the Commissioning Editor for Sky.

Right to Fight w/t (1×90”)

Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary produced by RAW in association with Sky Studios.

Directed by BAFTA award-winner Georgina Cammalleri and Exec-Produced by Tim Wardle (dir. Three Identical Strangers) comes Right to Fight, the untold story of the pioneers of women’s boxing, who defied sexism and racism for their place in the ring.

New York, 1974. The city is on its knees and nearly bankrupt. Life for women is hard. Domestic violence is deemed a “private matter”, and women can be fired for getting pregnant. Roe vs Wade has legalised abortion across America, but access to it remains highly restricted. Racial prejudice is commonplace.

Against this backdrop, women from all walks of life decide to forge a path into the most macho of sports: boxing. They are mocked and patronized, told that women are too delicate to fight, and their attempts to secure boxing licenses are rejected.  But time and time again, they pick themselves up from the canvas and continue the fight, taking the New York State Athletic Commission to court and igniting a movement across the country that will change the face of boxing forever.

Weaving together rare and previously unseen archive footage, intimate interviews with the key fighters behind the campaign, managers, trainers, judges and spectators, and contemporary verité filmmaking, this cinematic documentary takes viewers ringside to one of the greatest fights never told.  Powerful, moving and dramatic, this is the story of how a small group of maverick pioneers overcome the odds to become the first women issued with professional boxing licenses.

Right to Fight is a Sky Original documentary commissioned by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual.

Crime Caper Documentaries

The Scream (1×90”)

Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary produced by Curve Media.

TX: 2022

This is the remarkable story of the theft of one of the most iconic paintings in history, Edward Munch’s The Scream. Stolen during the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway, it was an outrageously bold art heist that triggered a thrilling cat-and-mouse chase, involving the Norwegian authorities, the global media and Scotland Yard’s specialist Art Squad.

Only one man was ever convicted of the crime – former professional footballer Pål Enger. Why did he do it and what really happened? Different people involved in the case have different versions of the truth. Was Pål the true mastermind? Was his motive money, fame or an obsession that’s haunted him since he first saw the painting as a child on a school trip? Brilliantly witty and mischievous, The Scream is an extraordinary Scandi-noir psychological crime caper.

Directed by Jenny Ash (The World’s Biggest Murder Trial, Me and My Penis) and Executive Produced by Oscar-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia (Senna, Amy, Diego Maradona), Camilla Lewis and Rob Carey for Curve Media.

The Sky Original documentary is commissioned by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual.

 

Jon Creamer