The BBC has commissioned four unscripted series and a feature documentary from producers including Frank Films, Wall to Wall Media and Ricochet.
Clare Sillery, BBC head of commissioning, documentaries, history and religion, revealed the titles today (June 8) as part of the 2021 Sheffield/Doc Fest.
First, coming to BBC1 and iPlayer is All at Sea: Fishing for Britain. The 6 x 60-minute series, produced by Frank Films, follows the scope and work of the British fishing fleet, intercut with fishermen’s stories in dangerous, high-stakes jobs.
Set over the course of one week at sea, each episode captures various boats of size and duty. The series will also use satellite tracking technology to link stories together.
It is executive produced by Jamie Balment, and the head of production is Val Croft.
Headed to BBC2 and iPlayer, The Nilsen Files: A Very British Crime Story sees filmmaker Michael Ogden re-examine the case of Dennis Nilsen, who was convicted in 1983 for the murders of six young men. Ogden will investigate why, 40 years later, the victims and their lives remain a footnote in this story. The series also questions how attitudes at the time of the case allowed the disappearance and murders to be overlooked, and how homophobia allowed Nilsen’s crimes to go un-investigated for years.
In the 3 x 60 minute series, produced by Wall to Wall Media, Ogden will meet with former police officers to discuss the premature closure of the case that left some victims unidentified.
Nancy Bornat is executive producer.
BBC3 commissions include the docuseries Akala: Race, Class and Empire, the property series Flat Out Fabulous and the documentary The Case of Fri Martin.
Akala comes from the BAFTA award-winning hip hop artist and author of the same name. The series is inspired by his book Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire, and it combines Akala’s personal story of self-discovery with an exploration of race, class and empire, and how these power dynamics affect young people through social policy and life opportunities in the UK today.
The series is being produced by Akala’s production company Immovable and Greenacre Films. Chanelle Newman of Immovable Limited, Nadine Marsh-Edwards and Amanda Jenks of Greenacre, and James Hayes of the BBC are executive producers on the series.
From Generation Rent, Flat Out Fabulous features interior designer Whinnie Williams and TV presenter Tyler West (pictured). The series seeks to show how stylish home renovations don’t have to be too expensive, with the hosts traveling around the UK to help groups of housemates improve their rental properties, and offering tips about buying, decorating and upcycling.
The 10 x 30-minute series is produced by Ricochet. Robi Dutta serves as executive producer, with Toral Davda working as series producer and Paddy Hughes working as the series director.
Finally, The Case of Fri Martin tells the story of Martin and Kyle Farrell, a young couple from Liverpool whose relationship abruptly ended when Martin stabbed and killed Farrell in 2014.
Martin was 21 at the time with two small children and claimed she was acting in self-defence, but after less than two hours of deliberation, a jury unanimously convicted her of murder and she was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 13 years. Now, she’s appealing her conviction on the basis of fresh evidence pointing to abuse within their relationship.
With access to friends and family of both Martin and Farrell, the film tracks the run-up to the appeal from both sides of the story.
The 60-minute film is directed by Danielle Spears as part of the BBC New Documentary Directors’ Initiative. Ruth Kelly is the film’s executive producer for Expectation Factual.