UK’s Channel 4 has unveiled a roster of new history docs to add to its portfolio.
Among the commissions is a new feature on the life of Russian dissident, Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned and murdered in London in October 2006.
The new 90-minute doc, Hunting the KGB Killers (working title,) will reveal the details of the investigation into Litvinenko’s murder through the experiences of the Scotland Yard detectives who worked on the case. With unprecedented access, the feature will recreate each step of the police investigation which spanned the UK and Russia, culminating in a public inquiry in 2015.
Hunting the KGB Killers is a True Vision North Production in association with Livedrop Media. The executive producer is Brian Woods and has been commissioned for Channel 4 by Rob Coldstream. The doc will air on the network later in 2017.
Channel 4 has also ordered a number of other history docs, including two series on the British Royal family.
- The six-part series The Royal House of Windsor looks at the dynasty, starting in 1917 with King George V’s decision to change the family surname from the German Saxe Coburg-Gotha to the British-sounding Windsor. The series uncovers the secrets of the family’s instinct for self-preservation with the help of family insiders, fresh research and access to the Royal Archives held at Windsor Castle. The Royal House of Windsor is produced by Spun Gold Television.
- The (2×60) series Spying on the Royals uncovers new details of a secret M15 spy operation against Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson (pictured). Spying on the Royals is produced by Brave New Media TV.
In marking the 50th anniversary since the decriminalization of homosexuality in the UK, Channel 4 has ordered a number of new projects. C4 describes the following programs:
- Not Guilty charts the stories of some of the 15,000 British men criminalized for offenses under long-defunct anti-homosexuality laws. The doc is produced by Testimony Films.
- Epidemic (working title). reveals how an unlikely coalition of gay campaigners, Tory politicians, and pioneering doctors came together to fight AIDS in the 1980s – and changed Britain forever in the process. The doc is produced by Blast Films.
- In 50 Shades of Gay (working title) Rupert Everett, in a series of encounters with gay people of all ages, delivers his own personal take on the changes in gay life and culture that have happened in Britain in the past 50 years. Swan Films is the producer on the series.
- Coming Out (working title) reveals how while campaigners were battling Parliament for legal reforms, the real frontline in the fight to win acceptance for gay culture was the arena of pop music. Alley Cats TV is the producer on the doc.
C4′s short arts film strand, Random Acts, is partnering with Tate Gallery on its Queer British Art 1861-1967 exhibition. Six shorts which will be directed by contemporary LGBTQ directors and will explore queer identity. The films will be shown in the exhibition at Tate Britain from April to October and on C4 as part of its LGBTQ programming.
In addition to these programs, the new historical adventure series Mutiny is set to air in early March. In this series, nine men set out to test themselves by taking on Captain Bligh’s 4000-mile voyage after the legendary Mutiny on the Bounty. The crew will attempt to make the same journey with the same rations, facing the same conditions in a tiny wooden boat to find out if modern men can stand up to those of the past.
Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson: Image courtesy of National Media Museum.