Several UK broadcasters have unveiled commissions covering topics ranging from living with a cancer diagnosis, to retracing the history of an East London neighbourhood and working to kickstart struggling businesses.
Channel 4 will air a feature-length documentary (as yet untitled) about 32-year-old boy band star Tom Parker (pictured) and his diagnosis with an incurable brain tumor. The documentary is part of this year’s Stand Up to Cancer national fundraising campaign that’s a joint effort between Channel 4 and Cancer Research UK.
The documentary follows the lives of Parker and his family after his diagnosis with a grade four glioblastoma, and their effort to stage a concert at the Royal Albert Hall for Stand Up to Cancer and the National Brain Appeal. The film comes from indie TV prodco Spun Gold TV, and Channel 4 will also broadcast the concert with line-up details to be announced.
“Almost a year ago, my world was turned upside down by my diagnosis,” said Parker via a statement. “It’s been an emotional few months for me and my family, but I’m determined to both fight the disease and fight the terrible situation of the chronically low level of research that goes towards finding a cure and treatment for glioblastoma.
“In this documentary, as well as exploring the medical and human aspects of this disease, I am determined to raise awareness and raise as much money as we can through the concert to help advance crucial cancer research and develop new treatments.”
Stand Up to Cancer is a UK fundraising campaign aiming to speed up progress on cancer research. It’s supported by the Entertainment Industry Foundation in the U.S., and has raised more than £62 million since it launched in the UK in 2012.
The film is directed by Dan Howell, with executive producers Nick Bullen and Lee Connolly. It’s distributed by All3Media International.
Over at Channel 5, newly launched independent production company Hungry Jay Media has been commissioned to produce Jay Blades: The Streets Where I Lived.
The three-part series will cover Blades, a furniture restorer and TV presenter known for his work on BBC hit The Repair Shop, and his upbringing in East London, exploring the homes he grew up in and the history of the people who lived there before him. Blades will be joined by some old school friends as he discovers secrets of the area and recounts stories from his life.
“The Streets Where I Lived is going to bring memories flooding back. I can’t wait to go back to my old neighbourhood and discover the history on its doorstep,” Blades said. “The places I visit are the buildings, streets and communities that made me the man I am today”.
Hungry Jay Media, launched last year, is a company started as a joint effort by Blades (presenter of the BBC series The Repair Shop) and indie production company Hungry Bear Media. Dan Baldwin and Juliet Denison Gay lead Hungry Bear. Hungry Jay Media will develop and produce a range of TV formats putting Blades both in front of and behind the camera, with a strong focus on creating opportunities for new production talent.
The series is directed by Rachel Jardine and produced by Lauren Bennie. Dan Baldwin and Clare Paterson are executive producers on the series.
The 4 x 60-minute series, Emma and AJ Get to Work has been commissioned by UKTV for its premium entertainment channel, W, to air later this year.
The series, produced by Firecracker Films, follows Emma Willis and AJ Odudu as they work to help families from all over the UK who are desperate to get their businesses back on track after struggling for the past year. The businesses range from sheep shearing on a remote hill farm to launching a pop-up shop and working at a family-run adventure hostel.
Executive producer for Firecracker Films on the series is Jes Wilkins, with series producer Susan Crook and director Lizzie Hardy. Passion Distribution will distribute the series.
“W viewers are huge fans of the brilliant Emma Willis, thanks to the award-winning Delivering Babies, and we are over the moon to be welcoming AJ Odudu to the channel too. We’re excited to see what challenges are in store,” said W channel director Adam Collings in a news release.