Channel 4 unveil host of new programming

Channel 4Following a start to 2013 in which Channel 4 has found a King in a car park, built a bionic man, broken a major political scandal in the Lib Dems, and found a grisly new use for chilli powder; Chief Creative Officer Jay Hunt today announced a number of major new programmes which continue to drive forward the channel’s vision for bold and innovative television.

For the first time ever in UK, remotely-operated cameras have been placed inside a British criminal court to capture a murder trial in its entirety. After more than three years of negotiation, The Murder Trial gives the Channel 4 audience unique access to the case of Nat Fraser, who stands accused of the murder of his wife Arlene Fraser who vanished in 1998. No trace of her has ever been found. With extraordinary access to the process of justice, viewers will hear evidence from family and in one of the notorious and high-profile trials of recent Scottish history.

In another first, Channel 4 will mark the month of Ramadan, which this year falls in July and August, with a special season of programming which will include hearing from a range of British Muslims on how they cope with daily life during Ramadan and the physical and spiritual effects of fasting – as well as marking daily early morning prayers.

Human Swarm will apply cutting edge science to the country’s national obsession and explore what the ebb and flow of the weather makes us do. In a new two-part series Jimmy Doherty charts how small changes in weather – whether a cold snap or a warm spell – can lead to surprisingly large differences in human behaviour. The ‘data trails’ we leave behind from social media activity, online buying and search terms help to reveal a remarkably detailed picture about just how predictable we are.

Following the award-winning Make Bradford British, a new exploration of multiculturalism Do You Speak English? looks at the one million immigrants in Britain who live on the edge of communities because they cannot speak the language. The new two-part series will follow four first-generation immigrants as they try and learn English for the first time – taught by ordinary British people.

Job Centre logoWith access over nine months in Scunthorpe, Skint follows the lives of a group of people who are either in long-term unemployment, have never worked, or are growing up without any expectation of working. This series offers an insight into their lives: highlighting social issues such as youth unemployment, crime, welfare dependency, truancy and addiction; but with the characters also revealing their ingenuity, resilience, community support and love and pride of family.

David Mitchell hosts a new entertainment show, Was It Something I Said? with two teams pitted against each other in a battle of word play to deduce who said what. And, in comedy Peter Kay returns to Channel 4 with a brand new one-hour special, Malachy’s Millions – in which he plays Malachy Mooney, a self-made millionaire who trades in his luxury lifestyle to live undercover in a destitute former mining town in northern England.

Channel 4 will broadcast The Grand National for the first time this April, and there will be a range of programming building up to the nation’s most iconic horse race in a typically 4 way.

The team behind Inside Nature’s Giants will explore what makes a winner in What it takes to win the Grand National. Drawing on the testimony of jockeys, and analysis of the anatomy of the horses, presenter Mark Evans will look at the race in forensic detail from its origins in the muddy chaos of Irish cross-country drag hunting, through to laboratories where new Alan Carrresearch is unlocking the biological basis of success. On the eve of the big event there’s also a special celebrity packed Alan Carr Specstacular and on race day itself, Channel 4 is on air throughout the day with a special Sunday Brunch (on Saturday) before handing over to Clare Balding and the racing team for live coverage from Aintree.

Speaking at the launch, Jay Hunt said “After a dramatic end to 2012 with award winning Paralympic coverage, live drugs tests and crashed planes, we have started 2013 at the same pace – finding a King in a car park, building our own bionic man and exposing a major political scandal.

“We are continuing to take risks and innovate in the months ahead with experimental factual like Easter Egg Live, channel defining new comedy like Man Down and London Irish, and powerful documentary like Educating Yorkshire and Skint.

“In the same vein, we’re also commissioning the sorts of shows only 4 would make – exploring multiculturalism in Do They Speak English, using cutting edge science to understand how weather affects human behaviour, and by delivering TV firsts like Murder Trial and daily morning prayers as part of the Ramadan season.

“I’m also delighted that channel defining pieces like Dennis Kelly’s Utopia and Rae Earl’s Mad Fat Diary will be returning to the channel, alongside the acquisition of an exceptional new French sci-fi crime thriller, Rebound.”

Other highlights announced today include Easter Egg Live – a series of live programmes and live streaming that will reveal – direct from state-of-the art hatching studios – the wonderful and weird world of nature’s most brilliant invention, the egg.

Davina McCall, Channel 4It’s back to school for the follow up to BAFTA winner Educating Essex. Educating Yorkshire will explore what really happens behind the school gates – this time at Thornhill Community Academy near Dewsbury.

Classical musician James Rhodes – dubbed “the maverick pianist” is passionate about taking his music out of the confines of the concert hall and into places it rarely reaches. Convinced that music can change lives for the better, James takes a Steinway grand piano inside one of Britain’s largest psychiatric hospitals. With exclusive and unprecedented access, James will meet patients to hear their searing life stories and share his own.

Five Minutes to a Fortune is a new game show hosted by Davina McCall, will challenge teams of two to work as the perfect partnership to take home a life-changing amount of money – £50,000. On Saturday nights, the show will double the potential winnings to £100,000 as two celebrities pit themselves against the clock to raise funds for charity.

The 40 Year Old Virgins will introduce Clive, an IT engineer, and Rosie – still virgins and not through choice. Clive is intimidated by the thought of physical intimacy and finds it hard to chat to women, let alone sleep with them. Rosie dreams of marriage and children of her own, but can’t bear to be touched by, or touch, men. However, help is at hand with a radical two-week course of sex therapy in the US.

Britain’s most gifted kids will get their turn in the spotlight in brand new series Child Genius, which will follow 20 extraordinary children and their families through the ultimate competition to find the UK’s brainiest child. The competition, organised in association with Mensa, will celebrate twenty remarkable children as they showcase their amazing mental abilities.

Brand-new comedy includes character humiliation and nakedness in Greg Davies’ Man Down, a hard-drinking, hard-living ex-pat community of Northern Irish twenty-somethings in London Irish and young women making terrible decisions, but having a brilliant time doing it in Drifters for E4.

Skins-MediumBryan Elsley, creator of the seminal E4 show Skins (which gets its finale later this year), is set to will take viewers on a series of Dates in an original nine part drama exploring the social minefield that is 21st century dating. Alongside, Date Night will use the fixed-rig to eavesdrop on eight first-time couples; from the moment they lay eyes on each other to their parting glance.

Channel 4’s first factually-inspired period drama The Mill written by John Fay, is set in rural-industrial England in the turbulent year of 1833. Based on the historical archive of Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire this powerful new serial depicts the brutal early years of the Industrial Revolution at a time of nationwide upheaval.

Ben Earl has devoted his time to learning and fine tuning the skills behind the art of deception and stars in four new television specials devoted to the themes of crime, art, money and science where he’s going to set himself a remarkable challenge – to deceive and surprise a group of people with nothing but his extraordinary skill and his ability to mislead.

10 O’Clock Live returns in 2013 with original presenters David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker, Lauren Laverne and Jimmy Carr reuniting to shed an uncomfortably bright light on the week’s events as well as giving an alternative take on what is the news. The award-winning The Last Leg – with Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker – will also return to our screens for a second series this summer.

Having launched to critical acclaim earlier in the year both Utopia, written by Dennis Kelly, and My Mad Fat Diary, by Rae Earl, have been recommissioned by Channel 4 to air in 2014.

[Reported by James Ryder]