Modern Family Life Under Spotlight Across The BBC
Motherhood, fatherhood, growing up and children’s education are four aspects of modern family life which impact on most people living in Britain today. They are being put under the spotlight in a host of new documentary commissions announced today by Charlotte Moore, BBC Commissioning Editor for Documentaries.
Charlotte Moore, who is speaking at the Sheffield Documentary Festival this week, said: “These are just a few of the documentaries on the BBC next year. They focus on aspects of modern life that reflect the reality in Britain today, and exemplify each of the four TV channels’ commitment to engaging our audience in issues that are of relevance and interest to their lives.”
Also announced today is an increase in BBC Three’s commitment to new film-makers.
Fresh – the channel’s new talent strand which seeks out the next generation of documentary-makers – is doubling its number of commissions to six hours for the channel’s returning Adult Season next year. Submissions are invited for films exploring the theme of becoming an adult in Britain today. Those selected will each receive a commission for a 60-minute documentary.
Charlotte Moore says: “In the past year, documentaries on BBC Three have continued to blaze a trail of originality and bravery through subjects tailored to its broad young audience. Fresh is very much a part of the channel’s commitment supporting new talent and fostering innovation, so I’m proud to announce that we’re strengthening that commitment in 2010 by doubling the number of hours we’re commissioning for the Fresh strand.”
In next spring’s Being Mum season, BBC One turns its attention to aspects of motherhood with four programmes which will air in the channel’s regular documentary slot at 10.35pm.
Filmed over 18 months, A Baby To Save Me (Mentorn) follows couples as they go undergo cutting-edge treatment to try to cure their sick child. Each child requires a bone-marrow transplant but no tissue match has been found. Instead, by using IVF techniques, it is possible for the mother to have a new baby unaffected by the disease and who will be a tissue match for their ill sibling.
With no legal age limits on IVF treatment and the biological boundaries being pushed further and further, women are having babies older than ever before. Too Old To Be A Mum? (CTVC) meets a woman approaching 60 who is thinking about having another child, and a 63-year-old who has three children under five, and explores the debate around how to decide when someone may be too old to be a new mum.
With unprecedented access to one of Britain’s leading child and adolescent mental health trusts, My Child Hates Me (ZKK) charts the stories of two families torn apart by having an aggressive child. The documentary looks at the work of the family therapy teams who try to rebuild parent/child relationships dominated by years of violent and anti-social behaviour.
My Child Won’t Speak (Landmark Films) follows three young girls with a rare emotional disorder, known as selective mutism, as they struggle to overcome their phobia and speak to people other than their parents for the first time in years.
Coming to BBC Two next year is a new three-part documentary series, Great Ormond Street (Films of Record). Filmed over a year, it follows doctors at Britain’s top children’s hospital. When technology can do so much, every parent hopes for the miracle that their child will get better. With unprecedented access to the normally closed world of medical decision-making, it explores how doctors face up to dilemmas of life and death.
And, today, BBC Two announces three new programmes on the subject of education.
Catchment (Blast Films) takes viewers on a year-long journey through the process of choosing which school a child will go to once they finish primary school, arguably one of the most intense decisions a family can take. The two films look at the decision-making process from all viewpoints – the children, the parents, schools, and the local education authority. Filmed in Birmingham, one of the largest education authorities in Europe, the series gives a fascinating insight into the reality of choice (or otherwise) available to parents in Britain today.
With recent studies showing that our schoolchildren are among the unhappiest and most tested in the western world, and reports that many of the current generation of boys are underachieving at school, two documentary series try to tackle the issues putting innovative new approaches to the test.
In the two-part The Perfect School (BBC Vision), leading education expert Dylan Wiliam sets up an experimental classroom in a secondary school. Across one term, he puts to the test some of the most forward-thinking and innovative ideas designed to revolutionise the standard of education and the well-being of school children in this country.
In the ambitious three-part series, Dangerous School For Boys (Twenty Twenty Television), Gareth Malone (The Choir) sets up his own school specially designed to appeal to a cross-section of 11-year-old boys, whether sporty jocks or secret swots. Based on the most recent educational research, Gareth introduces his pupils to the concepts of unbridled competition, risk and adventure. His aim is to harness the power of boisterous behaviour and challenge the boys’ apparent aversion to standing out from the crowd so that they feel more confident about aiming for better grades.
As announced above, BBC Three is commissioning six one-hour films for its new talent strand, Fresh. Submissions are invited for documentaries exploring the theme of becoming an adult in Britain today. Those selected will each receive a commission for a 60-minute documentary.
The Fresh documentaries commissioned in 2009 made a massive impact in the channel’s Adult Season which aired in August. Tony: I’ve Lost My Family – directed by Max Fisher (Lambent Productions) – had the highest audience appreciation of the Season. The Autistic Me – directed by Matt Rudge (Firecracker Films) – was one of the highest rating single documentaries ever on the channel. A follow-up to The Autistic Me has now been commissioned from Matt.
The subject of fatherhood in both an historical and contemporary context is tackled in a season of programmes coming to BBC Four next year.
Contact Centres, made by Brian Hill (Century Films), is a bittersweet one-off observational film featuring the stories of dads fighting against tough odds to see their children. The film lays bare their courage and determination to build relationships with their kids in what can be the most difficult of circumstances.
A Century of Fatherhood (Testimony Films) charts the revolution in modern fatherhood in Britain during the last 100 years. The three-part documentary series provides a unique insight into this century of dramatic change through the deeply moving testimony of dads of all ages. Even the oldest generation drop their traditional British reserve to reveal heartfelt secrets from their past.
The world of literature reserves a special fate for fathers – they are either missing or marginalised or regarded as an embarrassment. In Dads In Literature (BBC Vision), novelist – and father – Andrew Martin, takes a light-hearted journey through three centuries of literary fatherhood and also looks at how real-life relationships between writers and their fathers have influenced fiction and non-fiction alike.
Who Needs Dads? (Pioneer Productions) takes as its starting point the oft-used phrase, “every child needs a father” and explores what makes fathers so important. Child psychologist Laverne Antrobus investigates the psychology of families and also, some of the extraordinary hidden biological changes that occur in both fathers and their children, that helps explain why fathers play such a vital role in raising a family.