BBC2 orders jumbo jet doc, more Louis Theroux

UK pubcaster BBC2 has commissioned three new docs fronted by Louis Theroux (pictured), and has ordered the doc Jumbo - The Plane that Changed the World from London-based indie Arrow Media.
February 19, 2014

UK pubcaster BBC2 has commissioned documentary Jumbo – The Plane that Changed the World (pictured) from London-based indie Arrow Media, and is lining up three more docs fronted by Louis Theroux.

The Jumbo doc – a coproduction with Smithsonian Channel in the U.S. and Discovery Canada – details the history of the iconic 747 jumbo jet, which was twice as big as other planes when it debuted in 1969.

Helmed by Concorde: Flying Supersonic director Christopher Spencer, Jumbo will explore the jet’s triumphs and tribulations, and present interviews with the pilots, engineers, designers and passengers who were close to the original project. The doc also features re-enactments of important moments in the building of the plane, as well as CGI and infographics that explain complex aircraft designs.

Jumbo will air on BBC2 and Discovery Canada as a 1 x 60-minute special, and it will be broadcast in the U.S. on the Smithsonian Channel as a 1 x 120-minute program entitled 747: The Jumbo Revolution.

“Arrow is renowned for getting high levels of access to stories with global resonance,” said Tom Brisley, joint creative director of Arrow Media, in a statement. “We have a strong track record of bringing alive big stories in aviation, and there is no bigger story than that of the 747.”

Elsewhere, BBC2 will premiere Louis Theroux’s LA Stories this spring, which will see the titular journalist and presenter returning with three in-house-produced films looking at neglected and feral dogs; terminal patient care; and sex offenders.

In City Of Dogs (working title), Theroux visits south LA to follow dog catchers who patrol the roughest neighborhoods, meeting with a former gang member who is turning dogs into weapons, and in a more affluent neighborhood, dog-lovers and trainers who try to rehabilitate troubled dogs.

Another documentary, Life and Death (w/t), follows Theroux to Hollywood’s Cedars Sinai Medical Centre where he meets three patients dealing with terminal conditions, to examine the issue of end-of-life care in the U.S.

Finally, Sex Offenders (w/t) tells the story of how California deals with sex offenders after they’ve been released from prison, with Theroux talking candidly with convicted offenders living in hostels and on the street, as well as the people whose job it is to monitor them.

“I’ve been living in Los Angeles with my family for the past year or so. It seemed a chance to explore different sides of a single place, by spending longer immersed in stories and going deeper with the subjects,” said Theroux. “I have a love-hate relationship with the city. It embodies the best and worst of America. It combines wealth and glamour with social breakdown and deep neglect.”

The three  films were commissioned by Janice Hadlow, outgoing controller of BBC2; and Emma Willis, head of documentary commissioning for BBC1, BBC2 and BBC4. They are exec produced by Sam Bagnall for the BBC.

Meanwhile, the Jumbo doc was executive produced by Brisley for Arrow Media and Alan Handel for Handel Productions, and is a UK-Canada treaty coproduction with Handel. It will be distributed internationally by TCB Media.

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Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.