Sky sets original films, series for documentary, natural history channels

UK broadcaster Sky has revealed a slate of nine original documentaries and factual series to air as part of its soon-to-be launched factual channels, Sky Documentaries and Sky Nature. Titles include ...
May 21, 2020

UK broadcaster Sky has revealed a slate of nine original documentaries and factual series to air as part of its soon-to-be launched factual channels, Sky Documentaries and Sky Nature.

Titles include biographies of Stephen Hawking, Tina Turner and Steve McQueen, as well as two sports-focused films and a Steve Backshall-fronted natural history series.

“These new commissions showcase Sky’s investment in world-class original content and the breadth and range of factual shows our customers will be able to find on Sky Documentaries and Sky Nature. With the launch of these two new services and Sky History, we want to provide viewers with compelling, engaging and informative TV, a place where nature and documentary fans can gravitate to,” Sky’s MD of content, Zai Bennett, said in a statement.

Films airing on Sky Documentaries and Now TV include Hawking (1 x 90 minutes; Atlantic Productions in association with Sky Studios), which chronicles the life of Stephen Hawking, drawing on private family archive — footage and stills — and interviews with family, friends and colleagues.

Elsewhere, the 90-minute film McQueen: The Lost Movie, produced by Associated Rediffusion Productions in association with Sky Studios, examines a 1960s movie starring the late actor Steve McQueen, which was started but never completed.

From the Oscar-winning filmmakers behind Undefeated and Searching For Sugar Man, the Lightbox-produced Tina Turner charts the Grammy-winning performer’s rise to superstardom with exclusive access to the star.

The 90-minute documentary The Go Go’s (pictured) examines how an all female punk band in the 1980s paved the way for future musicians, particularly women, and how the group became a global phenomenon despite the “pressure of fame and painful consequences of success.”

The Go Go’s is produced by Fine Point Films and Fadoo Productions in association with Polygram Entertainment, Universal Music Publishing Group and Interscope Films.

Look Away (1 x 90 minutes; Top Hat Productions), meanwhile, examines the history of statutory rape in the music industry.

Sports films headed to Sky Documentaries include Tyson Bruno (1 x 90 minutes; Workerbee in association with Sky Studios), which charts the highs and lows of two boxing legends; and The United Way (1 x 100 minutes), about the rise of iconic sports dynasty Manchester United.

The United Way is a Matthew Lorenzo Production presented by Ingenious Media in association with Ad Hoc Films, Embankment Films and Cantilever Media.

Sky is also adding the historical film Lancaster to its documentary channel. Produced by Tall Boy Films, the documentary tells the story of the legendary bomber synonymous with the Dambusters and the night raids against Nazi Germany.

Finally, the 3 x 60-minute series Shark with Steve Backshall will premiere as part of Sky Nature and Now TV.

Produced by True to Nature and Sky Studios, the landmark natural history series takes viewers on a global journey from tropical coasts into the open ocean and the depth of the world’s seas to explore what can be done to save sharks.

Sky Documentaries and Sky Nature, alongside the rebranded Sky History, debut May 27. The services will offer on demand libraries with hundreds of hours of factual programming, providing an unmissable mix of premium, original commissions and acquired content.

The new films and series are currently in production and will air at the end of 2020 and into 2021.

The titles have been commissioned by Bennett and Jamie Morris, director of programme strategy. Tina Turner, The Go-Go’s and Lancaster were also negotiated by Jack Oliver, Sky Entertainment’s head of co-productions.

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.