Secret Millions to be handed out by Channel 4

Channel 4Channel 4 and the Big Lottery Fund have joined forces in the channel’s largest ever TV giveaway. As part of a major new series, £10 million is available to back radical ideas tackling some of Britain’s big issues.

From the producers of The Secret Millionaire, this five-part documentary series will follow five Channel 4 faces as they work with charities on the frontline developing new projects – meanwhile secretly trying to help secure £2 million of Lottery money that could turn the big idea into reality. From a radical approach to turning ex-prisoners’ lives around, to getting unemployed young people trained up and fit for work – the projects could bring new thinking to big problems and change lives.

Ordered by Documentaries Commissioning Editor Emma Cooper, The Secret Millions builds on the legacy of The Secret Millionaire, and takes the format to a new level – working with an enthusiastic and experienced team of Channel 4 experts. Gok Wan, Katie Piper, Jimmy Doherty, Dave Fishwick and George Clarke help a range of charities develop innovative and ground-breaking projects that could have profound, positive effects for those in need.

In 2011, Channel 4 teamed up with the Big Lottery Fund to ask the nation to decide which five themes were their priorities for funding during the current financial climate. The results were used by BIG to decide which five exciting and innovative projects across the UK should get a total of £10 million of Lottery money. This is the largest amount ever handed out on a Channel 4 series.

Emma Cooper said: “It has been fantastic to watch Channel 4 talent get behind these amazing causes. In such austere times these projects are making a real difference to people in the most far-reaching ways. We are proud to have been involved and this series highlights just how important it is to support ideas for successful, sustainable and social enterprises.”

Each week, The Secret Millions will follow a celebrity working with a charity to test out a bold idea dealing with big social issues. The people they work with have no idea that behind the scenes the Big Lottery Fund are assessing the project throughout and the Channel 4 celebrities are working with the charity bosses in hopes of convincing BIG to give away millions of pounds to turn the project into a reality. The Channel 4 talent are working on ideas to which they have emotional connections and are able to add real value to through their relevant skills and talents.

Getting involved on the front line, the Channel 4 talent will experience first-hand the issues facing the grassroots workers and the beneficiaries in need of help. With their support, the celebrities will help set up a trial-run of an innovative project conceived by the charity – when really, it is part of the secret bid to win millions of pounds of Lottery funding.

The projects will range from working on employment prospects for disadvantaged young people and jobs for ex-prisoners, to helping families with disabled children and innovating in social housing. Drawing on their own personal experience, skills and contacts to improve the idea, the Channel 4 celebrities hope to persuade the Big Lottery Fund that the projects really are worthy of this life-changing funding. If they are successful, the celebrities will reveal the secret millions at exciting and emotional surprise events.

Over the weeks, the cameras follow the hard work, the emotional strains and the exhilarating moments. Throughout, the charities, beneficiaries and Channel 4 faces learn to work together on these innovative ideas – providing emotional support, a better future or a second chance to those in need.

Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the Big Lottery Fund, adds, “The Secret Millions is one of the most exciting projects we have ever been involved in. Offering possible access to considerable sums of our good causes cash as part of Channel 4’s largest ever TV giveaway, knowing the huge difference that it could make on issues the public prioritised, has been an excellent experience.

“The efforts of the charity staff, volunteers and all those involved prove that the selfless spirit of helping others is alive and well. In tough times, the work these charities do is ever more important and I hope The Secret Millions experience will lead to a greater public awareness of such good causes and the opportunities there are for everyone to get involved.”

The five part series, comprising of hour-long episodes, will begin on Sunday 17th March at 8pm on Channel 4.

[Reported by Mike Waktins]