Sky has unveiled four new titles for Sky Documentaries and a series each for Sky Crime, Sky Nature and Sky HISTORY.
The newly commissioned titles for Sky Documentaries include The Devil’s Advocate, which unravels the epic, stranger-than-fiction tale of Giovanni di Stefano, who rose to become a notorious criminal lawyer without any legal qualifications. Red Elvis will chronicle the forgotten story of Dean Reed – an American who defected to the East at the height of the Cold War to achieve superstar status in the Soviet Bloc. The Billion Dollar Scoundrel (w/t) investigates the unbelievable story of Allen Stanford, who conned his way into billions of dollars and used his fortune to lure the English cricket team to a ‘winner takes all’ one-off game against the West Indies. Hijacked: Flight 73 tells the story of one of the most shocking hijackings of all time, when Palestinian terrorists stormed Pan Am Flight 73.
The Angel of Vengeance (w/t) will uncover the story of Crystal Hunnisett, who to some is guilty of two gruesome murders and to others is a victim of abuse and should be acquitted. The series will air on Sky Crime in October.
On Sky History, The Royal Bastards: The Rise of The Tudors (w/t) charts the true story of one of England’s most powerful and little-known women, Lady Margaret Beaufort, who navigated her way through one of the most turbulent and bloody periods in British history to secure her son as a successor to the throne. The docu-drama series stars, Sheila Atim as Queen Margaret of Anjou and Philip Glenister for the House of York. The actor playing Margaret Beaufort will be announced imminently.
In a landmark natural history series, Sky Nature introduces Chasing the Rains. Shot in 4K UHD, the four-part series will shine a light on life in the animal kingdom of Northern Kenya. Here, cheetahs, elephants and wild dogs battle against the merciless Kenyan climate to survive.
Sky’s Director of Documentaries and Factual, Poppy Dixon, said: “From profiling famous and infamous characters, to unravelling little known historical events and using innovative technology to explore the natural world, we are proud to bring viewers a diverse range of true stories that will inspire, inform and entertain. We hope to continue our record-breaking year with these new additions to the slate”
The newly announced titles are currently in production and post-production and will air in late 2021 and 2022 across Sky and NOW.
The Angel of Vengeance w/t (3×60”)
Sky Crime and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary produced by Trumble Films and Astronaut Films, in association with Sky Studios.
TX: October 2021
The Angel of Vengeance (w/t) explores the shocking story behind one of the most extraordinary cases in British criminal history. To many, Crystal Hunnisett is guilty of two gruesome murders and the embodiment of pure evil. But to her supporters, she’s a victim who deserves a full and immediate retrial.
With tales of love, vengeance, extreme violence, acquittal and conviction, her story often reads like a Hollywood fiction. In reality, it’s a highly complex case that’s haunted British detectives, lawyers, and the victims’ families for over twenty years and isn’t finished yet, as Crystal and her lawyers look at lodging a new appeal. The series delves beyond the lurid tabloid headlines, to hear from those closest to the case who have never spoken publicly until now, including Crystal herself.
The Angel of Vengeance (w/t) is produced and directed by Christian Trumble and Executive Produced by Jon Alwen. The Sky Original series is commissioned by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content, Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual and Hayley Reynolds, Commissioning Editor. The series is distributed by NBCUniversal Global Distribution.
The Royal Bastards: The Rise of The Tudors w/t (3×60”)
Sky History and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary series produced by 72 Films
TX: 15th November 2021
This landmark Sky Original series tells the incredible true story of one of England’s most powerful women, of whom you may never have heard, Lady Margaret Beaufort. She was half-sister by marriage of King Henry VI, mother of King Henry VII and grandmother of Henry VIII, who defied the greatest dynasties in medieval Britain – the Houses of York and Lancaster – to manoeuvre her son to the throne of England and consign the reign of the Plantagenets to history. Married aged just 12, pregnant at 13, widowed and a fugitive shortly after, her story is truly the real Game of Thrones.
Filmed on location in Lithuania and in the UK with three of Britain’s leading actors as our primary storytellers – Sheila Atim for the House of Lancaster (Queen Margaret of Anjou), Philip Glenister for the House of York (Richard of York), and ‘tba’ for Margaret Beaufort – this unique docudrama will tell the story of one of the most turbulent and bloody periods in English history from a unique perspective, through the eyes of its women.
Royal Bastards: Rise of The Tudors is directed by Julian Jones and produced by Bernadette Ross, with David Glover as Executive Producer. The Sky Original series is commissioned by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content, Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual and Daniel Korn, Vice-President of Programming at A+E Networks UK.
Red Elvis (1×90”)
Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary series produced by Talos Films and Sky Studios in association with Curiosity Studios
TX: November 2021
From the 1960s until the collapse of Communism, the most famous musician in the Soviet Bloc is not Elvis Presley, John Lennon, or a Communist Party-back hack. It’s a U.S. born, former teen idol from Denver named Dean Reed. In the Eastern Bloc, Dean sells out stadiums, preaches Marxism and inspires a generation. Along the way he plots revolution with Che Guevara, talks poetry with Pablo Neruda, and is lauded by Nikita Khrushchev. For the top brass, he’s a propaganda coup; for the Communist youth, he’s their Red Elvis… until his body is found floating in a lake in East Berlin, dead at age 47.
Featuring exclusive access to Dean’s friends and family, a treasure trove of unseen film and music, and previously sealed government documents, Red Elvis reveals the extraordinary story of the American who defected to the East at the height of the Cold War and became a superstar.
Red Elvis is directed and produced by Thomas Latter, with Julian P. Hobbs and Elli Hakami serving as executive producers for Talos Films. For Curiosity Studios, Noah Morowitz is executive producer, and Rob Burk is Head of Original Content.
The Sky Original film is commissioned by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual. The film is distributed by NBCUniversal Global Distribution.
The Billion Dollar Scoundrel w/t (3×60”)
Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary produced by South Shore, in association with Sky Studios.
TX: November 2021
In 2008, a Texan billionaire called Allen Stanford flew into Lord’s cricket ground carrying $20 million in cash. Using his vast fortune, he was to revitalise the game, attracting new fans around the globe. He’d convinced the England team to play a ‘winner takes all’ tournament against his own West Indian side, for the eye-watering prize. In this landmark three-part series for Sky Documentaries, we reveal that cricket’s would-be saviour was nothing but a sophisticated conman. A tale of sex, crime and cricket, it ends with Stanford being sent to prison for 110 years, having stolen $7 billion dollars running the 2nd biggest Ponzi scheme of all time.
With exclusive interviews and rich archive, this is the definitive telling of an extraordinary crime story. The investigation that brought Stanford down is the driving force of the series, revealing how the FBI had uncovered the dark secret at the heart of his financial empire, just as he was being revered as one of the richest men in the world. His spectacular fall from grace is told by the investigators and attorneys on both sides, as well as those who knew him personally. Whether former Antiguan employees who saw him as their saviour, whistle-blowers who feared for their lives, investors who lost everything or cricketers who played to win his money – all of them wonder – how did a man from rural Texas, who knew nothing about banking, get away with it for 23 years?
The Billion Dollar Scoundrel (w/t) is directed by Stuart Bernard, produced by Charlie Melville and Andrew Mackenzie and Greg James will serve as Executive Producers. The Sky Original documentary is commissioned by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual. Hayley Reynolds is the Commissioning Editor. The series is distributed by NBCUniversal Global Distribution.
The Devil’s Advocate (3×60”)
Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary series produced by Wonderhood Studios in association with Sky Studios.
TX: December 2021
Over three episodes, The Devil’s Advocate tells the epic, stranger-than-fiction tale of flamboyant international movie mogul and businessman turned criminal defence lawyer Giovanni di Stefano. A man who climbed to the heights of his profession and came to represent some of the most famous criminals and tyrants on the planet, including Harold Shipman and Saddam Hussein.
But Di Stefano was a conman who harboured many secrets, the most startling of all that he had no formal legal qualifications whatsoever.
Directed by Sam Hobkinson (Fear City, Misha and the Wolves), this series charts the gripping, cat-and-mouse chase between Giovanni di Stefano, the self-styled “Devil’s Advocate”, and the City of London Police detective Jerry Walters in an incredible, seven-year-long, international investigation to track him down from London to Rome and Mallorca.
The Devil’s Advocate is produced by Tom Garton and Katharine Patrick and Samantha Anstiss will serve as Executive Producers. The Sky Original series is commissioned by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual. The series is distributed by NBCUniversal Global Distribution.
Hijacked: Flight 73 (1×90”)
Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary produced by Blast! Films and Sky Studios.
“Before Pan AM 73 – people went home alive from hijackings. But after that – the game changed.” Mike Thexton – Flight 73 hostage.
This epic new feature documentary tells the story of one of the most shocking hijackings of all time. In 1986, Pan Am Flight 73 was stormed by Palestinian terrorists as it sat on the tarmac of Karachi Airport. The 360 passengers of 14 different nationalities endured a terrifying 16-hour ordeal that ended when the Pakistan military stormed the plane. 21 passengers were killed and many more were injured.
Mixing drama and documentary, this new film by multiple BAFTA winning director Ben Anthony (Grenfell, 7/7: One Day in London, Don’t Take My Baby) and executive produced by Tanya Winston, tells the story not just of the day itself, but how it led to one of the FBI’s biggest manhunts against the background of the simmering political tensions between the West and the Middle East, and an evolution in the tactics of terrorism.
Hijacked: Flight 73 is a Sky Original documentary produced by Blast! Films and Sky Studios and commissioned by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual. The film is distributed by NBCUniversal Global Distribution.
Chasing the Rains (4×60”)
Sky Nature and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary produced by Maramedia.
On the edge of the Great Rift Valley beyond the jagged peaks of Mount Kenya lies one of Africa’s special places – the great Rangelands of the North. Here we meet a charismatic cast of animal families and experience their battles for survival throughout the long dry season, filmed in the richness of 4K UHD.
Kulete the cheetah mother struggles to keep her litter of four tiny cubs together in the face of competition from hyenas and lions as the drought bites. Phoenix the alpha female of the Laikipia wild dog pack is growing old and this year her litter is small – just five cubs will carry forward her blood line as she chases impala and oryx across the hills. In Samburu, elephant families gather as the dry season begins. With the great Ewaso N’Giro river flowing, no-one has to struggle, but as it dries up each matriarch will need a special strategy to keep her clan alive in a landscape rapidly turning to dust.
These lands hold great rewards but to survive here you must endure the long haul. To live here you will be forever chasing the rains!
Chasing The Rains is produced by the team at Maramedia with camera director Justin Purefoy alongside Kenyan producer Faith Musembi. Nigel Pope and Jackie Savery serve as Executive Producers. The series was commissioned by Alison Barrat for Love Nature and Helene Ganichaud for Arte France. The Sky Original documentary is commissioned for Sky by Zai Bennett, Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual. Chasing the Rains is distributed by Blue Ant international.
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