Channel 4 unveils 2019 slate focusing on “big issues”
James R | On 05, Feb 2019
Channel 4 is looking to tackle the big issues facing Britain today in its new slate of 2019 series and specials.
Channel 4 Director of Programmes Ian Katz launched the channel’s line-up for the year last week, with a broad mix of programmes that aim to champion unheard voices, tell authentic stories, and reflect all of the UK on screen.
“Over the last year I’ve argued that Dialling up the Difference is the only rational response to a world in which the viewer is drowning in choice. In a world of unlimited flavours, Channel 4 must surely be a stronger one. That doesn’t mean niche. But it does mean asking ourselves constantly whether we are offering the viewer something different,” Katz said. “The question I often ask my commissioners is: what would the hole in Britain look like if Channel 4 was not there?”
“I think we answer that question best when we make entertaining, mischievous and innovative shows about the big issues and arguments in Britain today,” he continued. “At a time when the room for civilised public debate, for asking the most difficult questions, often seems to be contracting, I hope we are making space for the arguments and issues that others won’t. Certainly, many of the shows I have talked about tonight are not ones that the global digital giants, even as they plough billions into new content, would be remotely interested in making.”
In a television first, Ghost will enable a group of terminally ill people to record messages for their loved ones using cutting edge holographic technology. These deeply personal missives will then be delivered post mortem, by the subjects themselves, in vivid three-dimensional holographic form, allowing them to appear as if from beyond the grave to comfort the loved ones they have left behind.
In Lodgers For Old Codgers, Channel 4 will pair lonely pensioners with hard-up millennials in a ground-breaking series that will see surprising friendships form as young people priced out of the housing market move in with an OAP, providing them with companionship and help around the house in exchange for cheaper rent.
The true story of Julie Bailey, an ordinary woman who single-handedly took on the might of the establishment to expose the worst scandal in the history of the NHS, will be dramatized by filmmaker Dave Nath in a single drama, provisionally titled The Cure.
Filmmaker Paddy Wivell is going back behind bars for a second season of critically acclaimed Prison, which was Channel 4’s highest rating new factual commission of 2018. The new season focuses on female inmates and explore the human stories on both sides of the door: staff and prisoners.
Ex-soldier and adventurer Ed Stafford will document his first-hand experience of Britain’s growing homeless crisis in 60 Days on the Streets – a three-part series that follows Ed as he spends 60 days and nights on the streets of London, Manchester and Glasgow during winter.
Making entertaining, provocative programming for young 16-34 audiences is also at the heart of Channel 4’s remit. For an image-obsessed generation, The Surjury puts cosmetic surgery under the spotlight and brings together young people who are desperate to go under the knife with a panel of peers and experts who will decide whether they get their life-changing procedure or not.
Some of the UK’s most successful business owners – all of whom struggled at school – will go back to school in a series provisionally titled Secret Teacher. This will see them join staff at secondary state schools to share their skills and experience – without revealing who they really are.
On the comedy side, Harry Hill will return to Channel 4 with a gang of up and coming comedians selected by him in a new 11pm show, Nick Mohammed will bring his comedy alter-ego Mr. Swallow to Channel 4 in a new pilot, and new comic talent Tez Ilyas will make his Channel 4 debut with an 11pm satire project.
In drama, Sarah Lancashire will reunite with writer Jack Thorne in The Light – the final instalment of his acclaimed trilogy of dramas. If National Treasure was about shame and Kiri was about blame, The Light will be about justice, as a forgotten town searches for truth in the aftermath of a tragedy.
And for younger viewers and families, Channel 4 has commissioned an animation of Judith Kerr’s classic much-loved children’s book, The Tiger Who Came to Tea for Christmas 2019 – adapted by the makers of The Snowman and The Snowdog and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.