“Purposeful” doc slate from BBC features projects from Raw, Minnow Films, Blakeway

The BBC has unveiled an upcoming slate of documentary series and singles ranging from the Earth Day premiere of a previously announced three-part doc series on teen climate activist Greta ...
February 16, 2021

The BBC has unveiled an upcoming slate of documentary series and singles ranging from the Earth Day premiere of a previously announced three-part doc series on teen climate activist Greta Thunberg (see this story), to doc projects on autism, the National Health Service and myriad other subjects.

Headlining the slate is the three-part series, Football’s Darkest Secret, commissioned for BBC1 and iPlayer and examining historical child abuse in English football. The series was directed by BAFTA-winner Daniel Gordon (Hillsborough, The Australian Dream) and studies alleged abuse that took place in youth football all across England, according to 800 individuals who have come forward to implicate some 340 football clubs and identify 300 suspects.

Football’s Darkest Secret is a co-production between Insight TWI, Passion Pictures and VeryMuchSo, in association with Ventureland. In addition to director Gordon, the team includes executive producers John Battsek, Ron McCullagh and Steve Boulton, as well as producer Hugh Davies.

The tentatively titled documentary Our Family and Autism, traces the ongoing journey of Paddy & Christine McGuinness, whose four-year-old twins, Leo and Penelope, were diagnosed with autism in 2017 and last year their youngest child, Felicity, aged four, was also diagnosed. The film explores various questions including what autism is in medical terms, and what support exists for families, among others.

The doc is from Raw TV, producers of Chris Packham: Asperger’s and Me and Nadiya Hussain: Anxiety and Me. Tom Barry will executive producer and Lucy Wilcox is the director.

In Our International NHS, a one-hour special for BBC1 and iPlayer, broadcaster and historian David Olusoga explores the immigrant workforce that has been the backbone of the National Health Service (NHS), from its inception 70 years ago through to the current COVID-19 crisis.

Our International NHS is an Upland production. The director and producer is Tim Kirby and the executive producers are Charlotte Sacher, David Olusoga and Mike Smith. The BBC commissioning editor is Emma Loach.

In Bad Influencer (working title), viewers will follow the rise and inevitable fall of Belle Gibson, the Australian wellness guru who faked having cancer to cultivate followers on Instagram, making her one of the social media platform’s “first super influencers” before the truth brought her down.

Bad Influencer (w/t) is made by Minnow Films for BBC3, and was commissioned by BBC3 controller Fiona Campbell and Clare Sillery, head of commissioning for documentaries, history and religion. The commissioning editor is Emily Smith; executive producer is Grace Reynolds; and the director is Ziyaad Desai.

Meanwhile, Gambling: When Our Fun Stopped (w/t, 1 x 60 minutes) follows the personal journeys of young men whose lives were affected by addiction to gambling and their attempts to overcome it.

Gambling: When Our Fun Stopped (w/t) was produced by Blakeway North for BBC3 and was commissioned by BBC3′s Fiona Campbell and Clare Sillery. The commissioning editor is Emily Smith; the executive producer is Fran Baker and the director is Candace Davies.

“In these extraordinary and often divided times, it is more important than ever for us to be telling powerful, timely stories which offer different perspectives on the human experience,” said Sillery in a statement. “The documentaries I am announcing today demonstrate my ambition to grow and support the very best directing talent to make purposeful films that help us better understand the world in which we live; I’m very grateful to all those taking part for sharing their stories with us.”

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.