Channel 4 unveils documentary programming slate

Channel 4 has unveiled a fresh slate of documentary films heading to the UK pubcaster’s programming lineup later this year. Anchoring the slate will be the film Paddy Wivell’s Prison (pictured) from Spring Films, which features ...
April 6, 2018

Channel 4 has unveiled a fresh slate of documentary films heading to the UK pubcaster’s programming lineup later this year.

Anchoring the slate will be the film Paddy Wivell’s Prison (pictured) from Spring Films, which features exclusive access behind the walls of Durham Prison.

Others include Carry on Brussels from October Films and Trumble Films, a three-part series that features an eclectic group of Members of European Parliament from across the political spectrum as Brexit unfolds, and Blakeway North’s The Foreign Doctors are Coming, which charts the stories of four foreign doctors as they take the series of exams required to prove that they are up to the standards of the British health services.

Also slated to premiere on the network are Michael Ogden’s Alton Towers (w/t) from Films of the Record, which goes behind the scenes at the UK’s biggest theme park as it launches a multi-million dollar new rollercoaster; and the tentatively titled A Very British Country House from Scientific Films and series director Natalie Walter, which captures the daily front-of-house and behind-the-scenes of the luxury hotel house Cliveden House.

The full list of documentaries, with information provided by Channel 4, follows below:


Prod Co: Spring Films
Producer/Director: Paddy Wivell
Exec Prod: Kathy Myers and Richard Melman
Commissioning Editor: Nick Mirksy

Filmed over six months, the series by Spring Films takes a multi-faceted look at the prison system during a period of significant challenge and reform focusing on the day-to-day lives of prisoners and staff.

Operating at maximum capacity with just over a 1000 male prisoners, Durham Prison is one of the oldest and busiest prisons in the UK. New prisoners arrive daily with complex medical, emotional and health needs, all of which need to be assessed and catered for. With every cell and every bed occupied, every day prison officers are fighting a war against drugs and smuggled mobile phones.

Produced and directed by Paddy Wivell, whose previous work includes Extremely British Muslims, The Tribe and Bedlam, the series promises a rare snapshot of the challenges of life inside a prison.

Carry on Brussels

Prod Co: October Films and Trumble Films
Series Producer and Director: Christian Trumble
Executive Producers: Jane Merkin and Denman Rooke
Commissioning Editor: Nick Mirsky

Stepping into the curious world of the Brussels bubble, this three-part series follows an eclectic group of MEPs from across the political spectrum, as they buckle up for the ride of their lives on the Brexit roller coaster. Focussing on the personal over the political, the series offers unrivalled access to the inner workings of the European Parliament at one of the most historically significant times of its existence. Filmed over a year, the series charts the battles and the brawls, the tears, tantrums and tactics of some of Britain’s most maligned and misunderstood public servants in these most turbulent of times.

The Foreign Doctors are Coming

Prod Co: Blakeway North
Producer/Director: Andrew Dedman
Executive Producer: Sarah Murch
Commissioning Editor: Michelle Chappell

With an ever-growing shortage of doctors in the NHS, this one-hour documentary follows the stories of four doctors from India, Brazil and Egypt as they take the series of exams required to prove they are up to the standard required by our health service. Filmed over 11 months, the film follows the foreign doctors as they prepare for the all-important exam – their passport to a medical career in Britain. The prospect of living and working in the UK could transform their lives, but taking the exam comes at a risk. Many are spending thousands on travel, accommodation, the course and test, and leaving family behind. With the stakes so high, the doctors are under extreme pressure to succeed.

 Alton Towers (title TBC)

Prod Co: Films of the Record
Producer /Director: Michael Ogden
Executive Producer: Katie Buchanan
Commissioning Editor: Charlotte Desai

A one-off documentary will go behind the scenes at Alton Towers, the UK’s biggest theme park as they launch their multi-million-pound new rollercoaster, Wickerman. Eagerly awaited by rollercoaster enthusiasts as the first wooden roller coaster in 21 years with a structure that appears to set on fire, this is also Alton Tower’s first new ride since The Smiler accident in 2015. We follow the team at Alton Towers as they work around the clock getting Wickerman ready for the big launch when the park re-opens this March.

A Very British Country House (wt)

Prod Co: Oxford Scientific Films
Series Director: Natalie Walter
Series Producer: Sara Evans
Executive Producer: Alice Keens-Soper
Commissioning Editor: Nick Mirsky

The 3 x 60-minute series will follow the day-to-day life both front of house and behind the scenes of Cliveden House, a Grade 1 listed luxurious hotel set in 376 acres of National Trust grounds in the heart of the Berkshire countryside. It will feature the staff whose job it is to bring five-star service to Cliveden’s national and international clientele, and will feature some of the hotels most glamorous events of the year.

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 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.