Docs

Channel 4 readies true crime strand, orders trio of docs

Britain’s Channel 4 is launching a special focus on true crime content this fall, including a newly commissioned project on the “Bling Ring” group and a docuseries about young people entering ...
July 13, 2021

Britain’s Channel 4 is launching a special focus on true crime content this fall, including a newly commissioned project on the “Bling Ring” group and a docuseries about young people entering the post-pandemic world.

True Crime on Channel 4 will span All 4 and the Channel 4 network, and feature new factual commissions and popular hits from the pubcaster’s catalog. The event will be headlined by a pair of new titles, The Bling Ring and Murder in the Alps, as well as new editions of the popular series 24 Hours in Police Custody.

The Bling Ring (w/t) is a three-part series from Double Act Productions about what’s been called the first major crime spree of the social media age: a series of burglaries that took place in the posh L.A. suburbs in which millions in cash, art, jewels and designer goods were stolen from the homes of celebrities like Paris Hilton and Orlando Bloom in 2008 and 2009. The perpetrators were revealed to be middle-class teens who coordinated their crimes based on social media posts and paparazzi sites.

Murder in the Alps (w/t) is another three-part series, this time detailing the murders of the Al-Hilli family and Sylvain Mollier in the French Alps in 2012. Produced by Blast, the series re-examines the unsolved case that rocked the UK and France in which three members of a British family, Saad al-Hilli, his wife Iqbal and her mother, Suhaila al-Allaf, were slain along with French citizen Sylvain Mollier. The series explores the police investigation and media coverage and examines a variety of theories.

In addition to the newly commissioned series, True Crime on Channel 4 will also include Lifetime’s award-winning series Surviving R. Kelly and Surviving Jeffery Epstein, available for free in the UK for the first time, as well as the long-running U.S. crime series The First 48, as part of a new partnership between Channel 4 and A+E Networks.

“We are incredibly proud to have some of the best original crime programs on 4. Year on year the quality rises, as does the appetite for more stories particularly with younger audiences. In response to the demand, my team working with the Content Strategy and Planning team, have spent the last year curating brilliant international crime content to complement our British programming. We are thrilled to launch True Crime on 4, the first dedicated, cross-platform crime content strand on a UK PSB,” said Danny Horan, Channel 4′s head of factual, in a release.

Elsewhere, Channel 4 also commissioned a six-part documentary series from Optomen about a group of young Britons as they head out for their first vacation since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Once Upon a Time In Zante (pictured) is a 6 x 60-minute show that will follow young Brits as they navigate the post-COVID world and visit the Greek island to let loose after a year and a half of lockdowns and social distancing amid relaxing restrictions. The series was commissioned by Channel 4 factual senior commissioning editor Anna Miralis and will be produced by Optomen with executive producers Tina Flintoff and Nick Hornby.

In other Channel 4 news, the broadcaster has greenlit UK indie Woodcut Media to produce a six-part war docuseries, Tony Robinson’s Forgotten War Stories, presented by actor Sir Tony Robinson, to debut later this year. The series will focus on forgotten conflicts in recent British history, including the Suez Crisis, the Bosnian War, the Gulf War, the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency and the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya.

Tony Robinson’s Forgotten Wars was ordered by Polly Scates, Channel 4′s acquisitions manager, and the deal was brokered by Woodcut’s creative director, Derren Lawford. The series is executive produced by Paul Wooding, with Nick Mavroidakis as series producer for Woodcut Media. Worldwide sales of the series will be handled by Woodcut International.

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 HMV.com. 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.

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