The BBC has commissioned Flicker Productions to produce a documentary with Paralympian Ellie Simmonds about dwarfism and the relationship between science, diversity and disability.
Ellie Simmonds: A World Without Dwarfism? (1 x 60 minutes) will look at a new drug that promises to help children born with Achondroplasia — a genetic condition that is the most common type of dwarfism in the UK — to increase the rate of growth. The treatment raises the question of whether or not to use a new drug that can stop a disability early.
The film will follow Simmonds (pictured) as she travels the UK and U.S. to explore different sides of the debate, examining current treatments for dwarfism as well as meeting families participating in the drug trial, others who feel treatment would have positively impacted their lives and those proud of their identity. Simmonds will meet with other members of the dwarfism community and speak to her family about her own experiences of growing up with achondroplasia while grappling with tough questions posed by emerging medicines.
Ellie Simmonds: A World Without Dwarfism? was produced by Flicker Productions and directed by Kate Monaghan. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland, director, factual, arts and classical music television and Jack Bootle, head of commissioning, science and natural history. The commissioning editor is Tom Coveney and the executive producer is Colleen Flynn.
Meanwhile BBC Factual has also announced a lineup of upcoming natural history programming for BBC1, BBC2 and BBC iPlayer, including a new landmark series as well as the latest project to feature Sir David Attenborough.
Asia (w/t) is a new seven-part super landmark series for BBC1 from BBC Studios Natural History Unit and coproduced by BBC America. It will tell the story of the world’s largest continent through its epic landscapes and spectacular wildlife, with filming locations including the Tibetan plateau, the Taiga forest, the Gobi Desert and some of the 17,000 islands of Indonesia. The series was also commissioned by Patrick Holland and Jack Bootle. Executive producer is Jonny Keeling and series producer is Matthew Wright.
Also slated is Attenborough And The Mammoth Graveyard (w/t), in which Sir David Attenborough joins an archaeological dig uncovering Britain’s largest mammoth discovery in almost 20 years. As the team finds more stone tools they realize this could be a once-in-a-generation discovery offering a window into a period of prehistory of which little is known. The 60-minute doc for BBC1 and iPlayer is produced by Windfall Films. It was commissioned by Holland and Bootle, with commissioning editor Coveney and executive producer David Duggan.
Meanwhile Operation Satanic: The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior (w/t), a feature documentary from ITV Studios’ Oxford Scientific Films, has been commissioned for BBC2 and iPlayer. The film tells the story of the fatal bombing of Greenpeace’s flagship Rainbow Warrior by a team of French Secret Service agents in New Zealand in 1985, meant to prevent the protesters from demonstrating against France’s nuclear testing on South Pacific islands.
The 90-minute film was directed by Chloe Campbell (The Surrogates, Forensics: The Real CSI) and commissioned by Holland and Bootle, with Caroline Hawkins as executive producer. Worldwide sales are being handled by ITV Studios.
Finally, The Pride is a 90-minute documentary for BBC2 and iPlayer that focuses on the Marsh Pride, the most filmed lions on the planet, amid a battle for survival in Kenya’s famous Maasai Mara Reserve. It was produced by BBC Studios Natural History Unit and coproduced by PBS and directed by Pamela Gordon. It was commissioned by Holland and Bootle and executive produced by Jo Shinner. The commissioning editor is Sreya Biswas, while the executive in charge for PBS is Bill Gardner.
“When it comes to science and natural history programming, the BBC leads the way — and this raft of fascinating ideas proves it,” said Bootle in a statement. “From Asia to the Masai Mara, from Ice Age excavations to modern-day environmental thrillers, no other broadcaster is as committed to telling stories about the state of our planet today and the science of life on earth.”
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