BBC unveils new documentary slate
Staff Reporter | On 13, Jul 2020
The BBC has unveiled a new slate of documentary commissions tackling pertinent topics that face modern Britain.
A feature length, state-of-the-nation documentary for BBC One will bring viewers the definitive story of the coronavirus pandemic in Britain. Three new commissions for BBC Three will see Hometown return, this time fronted by award-winning journalist Amber Haque (pictured), the debut of the first film from Marian Mohamed (from the BBC’s New Directors’ Scheme) and introducer audiences to Michaella McCollum and how she survived one of South America’s toughest prisons.
Ahead of her Sheffield Doc/Fest session last week, Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries, announced the slate as proof that the BBC “plays a vital role in enabling the very best film-making talent to tell the stories that matter to them”.
Clare Sillery added: “We are living in extraordinary times that demonstrate, now more than ever, the power and importance of documentary film making. Our recent BBC Two Hospital Coronavirus Special took viewers right to the frontline of the NHS response at the Royal Free Hospital in London, whilst starting next week Once Upon A Time In Iraq, from acclaimed director James Bluemel gives unprecedented insight into a conflict that continues to shape our world today.
The new feature-length film Britain vs Coronavirus “demonstrates our on-going commitment to films of scale that bring new perspective to timely subjects” she continued.
Here’s the line-up of new documentaries heading to the Beeb:
Britain vs Coronavirus (BBC One)
A feature length, state-of-the-nation documentary for BBC One, telling the definitive story of the coronavirus pandemic in Britain. Interweaving archive and compelling master interviews with many of the key decision-makers in the crisis, the film will be a forensic retelling of the events of a seismic year in UK history when the pandemic struck. Exploring the impact of the crisis on the NHS, on social care, on the economy, and on society as a whole, this will be the story of how Britain changed in just 12 months, in ways – and on a scale – we are yet to fully understand.
The 90-minute documentary hails from BBC Studios’ Documentary Unit, commissioned by Charlotte Moore, BBC Director, Content and Clare Sillery, BBC Head of Commissioning, Documentaries. The executive producer is Fergus O’Brien, the commissioning editor is Emma Loach. The film is directed by James House and the producer is Claire Kavanagh.
Hometown: Another Killing (BBC Three)
The first series of Hometown was presented by journalist Mobeen Azhar who won an RTS Award for his investigation into the death of Mohammed Yassar Yaqub in his hometown of Huddersfield. Now, it’s back, this time fronted by award-winning journalist Amber Haque. Amber is returning to her hometown of Cheadle, Greater Manchester, to uncover the real story behind the tragic death last year of a Manchester school boy. Stabbed to death in a leafy neighbouring suburb of Hale, it’s a case that has split the community.
Haque said: “I’m heading back home to try and understand the factors that led to the tragic death of Yousef Makki. I also want to get to the bottom of the social media rumours that suggest that this is a story not only about race and identity but also money and power.”
The six-part series was commissioned by Fiona Campbell, Controller BBC Three and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries. It’s a Forest production where the Executive Producer is Jeremy Lee. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Emma Loach.
Digga D (BBC Three)
Nineteen-year-old Digga D, is one of the biggest up-and-coming drill artists in the UK. This new film, directed by Marian Mohamed from the BBC’s New Directors’ Scheme, follows him as he is released from a 15-month stint in prison at a pivotal moment in his life. He is intent on making a success of his music career, but that’s not straightforward.
Digga D is one of the first musicians in British history to be given a police Criminal Behaviour Order controlling his creative output. It means he is not allowed to release any music, or videos, without police approval. The police say they target drill because it promotes and causes violence, but others call this censorship and say that the art simply reflects real life. Digga’s situation – and his ongoing story – embodies this dilemma. His next moves could redefine his life, and his music, forever.
A year after his social media accounts stopped, a year after his last music video, his last post, and his last tweet, Digga is coming back. This film tells the story of how he manages that – and who is helping him.
He came out of incarceration into a world locked down. But for a young drill artist who was already subject to strict rules, even this isn’t going to stop him. He needs to release music – and follow up on the success of his hit tune No Diet. With his music so rigorously policed, can he do that and secure his future?
This one-ohur film Lambent Productions was commissioned by Fiona Campbell, Controller, BBC Three and Clare Sillery, BBC Head of Commissioning, Documentaries. The executive producer is Emma Wakefield, the director is Marian Mohamed and the BBC commissioning editor is Beejal Patel.
High (BBC Three)
In August 2013, Michaella McCollum was arrested at Lima Airport Peru, attempting to smuggle out £1.5m of cocaine hidden in her suitcase. She was sentenced, alongside her 20 year-old accomplice, to nearly seven years in jail in one of the country’s toughest prisons: Ancon 2.
At 20 years old, Michaella was incarcerated with murderers and gangsters, witnessing horrific attacks on fellow inmates and living in brutal conditions. At times she genuinely believed she might not make it out of Peru alive. This six-part series from Blast! Films tells the story of how Michaella served her prison sentence, eventually becoming known as the Delegada, the highest ranking prisoner in her wing, and running a pop-up beauty salon for her fellow inmates.
The series has unique access to Michaella, her family and friends as well as others closely connected to the case and with a range of perspectives on the drugs trade. It reveals how a small-town girl from rural Northern Ireland who didn’t even know where Peru was, let alone speak a word of Spanish, embarked on one of the riskiest crimes imaginable – and failed – only to rise up in the ranks of one of the most notorious prisons in the world before being released on probation after serving three years.
The series was commissioned by Fiona Campbell, Controller BBC Three and Clare Sillery, BBC Head of Documentary commissioning. The executive producer is David Hodgkinson and the Director is Stuart Bernard. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Hamish Fergusson.