Docs

C4′s Lee: “We’re still hungry for factual formats”

Channel 4 is still on the hunt for formatted factual, according to the UK network's head of factual Ralph Lee (pictured), who tells realscreen that despite having aired less shows like Undercover Boss in recent years, "formats are still of real interest to us."
January 13, 2012

Channel 4 (C4) is still on the hunt for formatted factual, according to the UK network’s head of factual Ralph Lee (pictured), who tells realscreen that despite having aired less shows like Undercover Boss in recent years, “formats are still of real interest to us.”

According to Lee, the network is keen not to lose sight of documentary formats, which he said have been “slightly less prominent” in the last couple of years, since Secret Millionaire and Undercover Boss were last on air.

“We haven’t loss our hunger for new formats,” Lee told realscreen. “A lot of people are chasing the football of Gypsy Weddings and access-driven docs, but formats are still of real interest to us.”

Meanwhile, in the specialist factual realm, he said the broadcaster wanted “more character-driven films [and] more unique mediators of subject areas – people like Jimmy Doherty and Guy Martin are really key for us.”

Lee replaced former head of documentaries Hamish Mykura at the end of last year, taking on the new head of factual role, which puts him in charge of the network’s non-fiction programming.

His comments come despite the fact that the “football” of the Gypsy Weddings franchise was the biggest factual draw for C4 in 2011. As reported yesterday, Firecracker Films’ titles Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, My Big Fat Gypsy Christmas and My Big Fat Royal Gypsy Wedding were the UK network’s three highest-rating programs across the year.

Lee said that C4′s aim under his charge would be to continue to be “restlessly creative,” adding: “It’s all about ambition and about creative and editorial innovation, trying to do the new¬†– we’re always a bit unhappy to settle and always trying to do things in new ways.”

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.

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