C4 commissions round-up: return of “River Cottage,” feature doc “Marine A”

Channel 4 closed out the week with confirmations of three new commissions, including the return of the River Cottage franchise. Fronted by longtime host Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and slated to premiere on ...
May 27, 2022

Channel 4 closed out the week with confirmations of three new commissions, including the return of the River Cottage franchise.

Fronted by longtime host Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and slated to premiere on More4 in June 2022, River Cottage Reunited (4 x 50 min.) will see the celebrity chef reopening the doors of his farm-and-field-to-table kitchen, River Cottage HQ, in the countryside of East Devon. Along with his crew of foragers, chefs and gardeners, Fearnley-Whittingstall will continue to enlighten viewers about the benefits of living off the land, supporting local organic farmers and growers, and moving towards a more natural, plant-based diet.

Produced by Keo Films and first aired on Channel 4 in 1999, River Cottage went through numerous series and specials through the mid-2010s. In 2013, it was spun off into an Australian adaptation coproduced by Keo and ITV Studios Australia, fronted by Tasmanian chef Paul West.

“So many of us are looking to nature, the great outdoors, and homegrown food to comfort and nourish us, both physically and mentally, and Hugh and River Cottage can help us with that like nobody else,” said Anna Miralis, senior commissioning editor for Channel 4, in a release. “The original shows have spawned dozens of imitators down the years, and so we are proud to bring back the original and best.”

Miralis commissioned the new series from Keo Films, whose chief creative officer Andrew Palmer serves as executive producer. Michelle Crawley and Richard Hill are co-directors and coproducers on the series.

Next up on the C4 slate is an original series from Crackit Productions, Key to a Fortune, in which presenter Jean Johansson surprises people with the news that they have inherited valuable properties from extended family members that they never even knew they had.

On each episode, Johansson tracks down the unknowing inheritors of properties that have been left vacant due to the fact that their late owners left no will. The surprised new owners will not only learn about their secret family history — and previously unknown, still-living family members — but will also be advised by a team of property experts on how to get the maximum value out of the home as they consider whether they should share it, sell it, or renovate.

Key to a Fortune is a Crackit South production, and was commissioned for Channel 4 by Kate Thomas, commissioning editor, daytime and features. Elaine Hackett and Rebecca Bayatti serve as executive producers, while Charlotte Taylor is series producer.

The third new commission is a feature-length documentary from Two Rivers Media and Uppercut Films, Marine A (w/t), which tells the story of Alexander Blackman, the first British serviceman to be convicted of murder on a foreign battlefield since World War II.

In December 2013, Blackman was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing a wounded Taliban insurgent on an Afghan battlefield in September 2011. While Blackman was released from prison in 2017, after a public campaign led by his wife resulted in the downgrading of his conviction to manslaughter, his dishonorable discharge from the Royal Marines remained in effect.

Centered on exclusive interviews with Blackman and many other parties involved in the affair who have never spoken on camera before, and employing recently recovered, never-before-seen combat footage, the 90-minute doc (pictured) will explore both the fatal incident on the battlefield and its ensuing legal and political fallout.

“Many have tried to get access to [Blackman], to hear his story in his own words. We are honored and proud that he has chosen to share it with us,” said Two Rivers Media MD Alan Clements. “This unique access allows us to explore the real events surrounding this devastating event, to bring the full story to the screen in the way that we did with Killing Escobar and Cassius X.

“The premium documentary space is central to our growth as a company, and we are delighted to be working on Marine A and have more projects coming through,” continued Bennett, who also recently announced that Two Rivers would be mounting a major docuseries based on Simon Kuper’s non-fiction best-seller Chums: How a Tiny Caste of Oxford Tories Took Over the UK.

Marine A is directed by BAFTA-winning filmmaker Stephen Bennett, who won the best documentary feature prize at Belfast’s Human Rights Festival in 2019 for Eminent Monsters, which chronicles the history of Western governments’ use of torture in warfare and covert operations.

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.