C4 to study “Youth” over five years

The UK pubcaster has commissioned The Detectives prodco Minnow Films to develop a longitudinal doc project that will chart the lives of teenagers from low-income families over a five-year period. (Pictured: Minnow's Colin Barr)
August 25, 2016

UK pubcaster Channel 4 has commissioned The Detectives producer Minnow Films to develop a “longitudinal doc project” that charts the lives of teenagers from low-income families over a five-year period.

Tentatively titled Youth, the series will focus on British teens between the ages of 13 and 16 years, and will explore the economic and social barriers young people from disadvantaged backgrounds face, and the triggers that can push them up or down the social ladder.

“We’ll follow these teenagers at the pivotal points in their lives over the next half decade and weave in the multiple perspectives of the key people in their lives – their parents, carers, siblings, teachers or employers,” said C4′s deputy head of factual Amy Flanagan in a statement. “Only by observing these young people over a long period of time will we be able to see the forces working against them in modern Britain and the strength of will needed to triumph.”

The commission comes in the wake of a recent government report that suggests the UK has among the worst social mobility of any developed nation. According to the report from the Commission on Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, children from poor families in Britain have a lower chance of earning higher wages and better education than their parents did, than those raised in other Western countries.

Minnow’s Colin Barr serves as executive producer. The first episodes are expected to air across the network in 2022.

Channel 4 has previously found success in similar, long-range projects. Its longitudinal docuseries Born to Be Different, which provided insight into the challenges of raising a disabled child over a 16-year period, won critical acclaim from UK reviewers. The Telegraph, for instance, called the series “pioneering” in a 2013 review, with writer Gerard O’Donovan noting, “This is a series that packs an enormous punch of humanity into an hour and generally shows our health and welfare services in a stark but fair light – revealing the huge effort that goes into providing support.”


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