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									                                                Channel 4 – Events
                                 Specialist Factual Briefing
                                                      4 June 2009

                                              Opening Comments
                                                         Ralph Lee
                                                  Head of Specialist Factual

I.      Preamble
Hi everyone, good afternoon, welcome. My name is Ralph Lee and I am head of Specialist Factual. Welcome to our annual
Specialist Factual briefing. I hope we are going to make it worth your while, coming out of the sun and into the basement on
this sunny afternoon. In the next hour or hour and a half our plan is to get you completely up to speed on all our plans as a
department. I am going to give a brief introduction and then I am going to hand over to Tanya, Julia and David to talk about
the areas that they commission in. Please store up any questions that you have got and throw in questions for us. We will take
some questions after everyone has had a chance to talk and it will be interesting to hear what questions or comments you have
got about our thoughts this year.

II.     Channel 4 and the Credit Crunch
It has been quite an extraordinary year since we last gathered for one of these briefings. It was about this time last year that I
did my first Specialist Factual briefing after I came back from Channel Five and around that time, I was thinking about it
earlier as it has been an extraordinary year but it has flashed by, the world looked quite different.

I remember going to Washington for a bit and taxi drivers were all abuzz with excitement that it looked like 2008 was going
to be the year in which America made the historic decision of electing its first woman president. This was a time when the
British government said that we face the first real crisis of globalisation and they were talking about increased fuel prices and
higher food prices as a result of it. None of us at the time had ever heard about Twitter or could pick Robert Peston out of a
line-up. The last year has been really quite extraordinary.

The credit crunch had not really even been thought up this time last year and Northern Rock had been bought by the
government and nationalised and it appeared that any sense of any real economic crisis had been averted. Obviously things
did not turn out quite how they looked a year ago and here at Channel 4 it has been no different. When I came back to
Channel 4 we had a massive, burgeoning programming budget of about £500 million and things do not look quite the same.
So I think if you just took the raw figures or the pages of broadcast as your metric, the last year would be a pretty depressing
one. On a more local level, I think we have got a more exciting and up-beat story to tell. The department that we are working
in here, Specialist Factual, has had a really exciting year on air and I think we have got some really engaging and exciting
projects coming up which the team are going to give you a glimpse of.

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Specialist Factual Briefing                                                                                        Channel 4 – Events

III. Specialist Factual Over the Last Year
1. The Highest Rating Shows

Just looking back at the year, I think we have performed really well as a department. We have had a number of big hits, we
continue to hit 2.5 million and 3 million ratings; things like The 9/11 Hotel, Prince Charles’ Other Mistress,
The Lost World War One Bunker from Time Team, David Starkey’s Henry VIII series performed extremely well, Snowdon
and Margaret again hitting a peak at 3 million. Our programmes still perform extremely well in ratings terms and register
really highly on the polls register.

2. Awards

We have also picked up a lot of really key awards. David’s brilliant series with Richard Dawkins,
The Genius of Charles Darwin won Best Documentary Series at the Broadcast Awards, Darlow Smithson picked up an
Emmy for The Beckoning Silence which was fantastic to see. 1983: The Brink of Apocalypse won the history award at the
Griersons and we recently won the RTS Award for history for Rupert Everett’s Sex Explorer so on a local level we feel really
positive about our output. Before I talk about the future let us have a glimpse, a short showreel of some of the programmes
from Specialist Factual in the last twelve months.

[Video presentation]

IV. The Next Twelve Months
1. More Commissioning

So that is the last year; what about the next twelve months? That is what we would like to tell you about now. I think the
most important message that you could take away today is that we have got masses of commissioning to do. In spite of all the
economic squeeze and budgets being cut etc, etc, we as a department are looking at 2010 and going ‘Okay, what are we
going to do after about March?’ There are a lot of good reasons for that and it puts us in a really nice position now that we can
really pick the projects that we want to back for next year.

You will see from what David, Tanya and Julia will show you and tell you that this year we have got what I think is a very
strong line-up of Specialist Factual; but going beyond that we really do not have that much on our books. We are not a
department with loads of returning brands so unlike something like a features department where you bother over what Jamie
is going to do next or how many episodes of Grand Designs we should have, or dealing with management of lots of
returning series, other than Time Team practically all of our output is actually generated as new every year. It is a really good
challenge but it is quite a difficult one for us in that by keeping the bar incredibly high we have got to generate a huge number
of projects every year.

2. Addressing the Strengths of Specialist Factual

So what are we going to commission in the next 12 months? About this time last year I looked at our output and I thought
really hard about what is Specialist Factual on Channel 4 and what is the point of it and what should it be doing. As an area of
television it has got huge strengths and its greatest strength is its content, that ultimately everything we do has rich and deep
content. It has all got a strong sense of public service purpose behind it and I think that is really important. It also offers a vast
range of different idioms of making television. From Richard Dawkins to Surgery Live or from 1066 to Time Team, there are
loads of different ways that we can deal with our content.

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Specialist Factual Briefing                                                                                       Channel 4 – Events

Looking at TV about a year ago, I remember Tim Garden once saying that commissioning at its worst is like ten-year-olds
playing football where they all just follow the ball around and they chase the ball but no-one steps back and passes it round. It
felt slightly that everyone in TV a year ago was saying ‘I want the next Supernanny, I want the next Secret Millionaire, I want
to make the next format, I want to make the next returnable, contemporary factual entertainment format’ and it would have
been quite easy to try and approach specialist factual content like that. We made a very clear decision a year ago not to do that
because we wanted to make our specialist factual output different and clearly distinctive from all the other stuff that you are
seeing on TV. That can be seen in that showreel and you will see it in the decisions that we are making coming up; as a
department that is a decision that we really want to continue with.

3. Addressing the Weaknesses of Specialist Factual

While there are some huge strengths which you can see there, there are also some big flaws in our output that we are
constantly trying to address and it is important to bring you in on that and give you a glimpse of it. I would put those under
three headings, scale, distinctiveness and pleasure.

a. Scale

A lot of the time we bother over what the innovations are that we can bring to these subjects that we do and the answer to that
is often that we make the ideas smaller or more complicated; that can be seen from the showreel here that one of the things
that distinguishes our output is a sense of scale. Everything we do has a sense of scale behind it. We are not a department
which wants to pick off lots of different stories; something that I will speak about a little later is one of the consequences of the
economic squeeze that is going on is that we are doing fewer seasons in the high society toffs and crims idiom where some of
those small stories were gathered, so scale is a terribly important thing that we bother about when we look at all of your ideas.

Scale does not just mean CGI or thousands of extras recreating a battle. Scale can be achieved by tackling big subjects, by
using talent of the right kind, by using argument, polemic opinion of the right kind; so the other thing that can add scale is a
sense of event and occasion, of relevance, of being in the moment. The worst form of TV in a way now is the TV that you
can press the tape and go home and not worry about it. The more our output is bothering us and having to try to keep it
relevant and keep it in the moment, the better. It is very exciting making The Ascent of Money in a year of economic crisis and
revising the script with Niall every night after Newsnight, we would exchange emails and talk in the morning about how we
are going to make this relevant to the now and how we target it to the now. It is very difficult but it also meant that we knew
that we were doing something that would speak to people’s preoccupations. Live events like Surgery Live, which David will
talk about later, also give the channel a sense of being awake and being alive. We are not just making TV programmes that
can be put on now, tomorrow, next year or the year after; so scale is really important.

b. Distinctiveness

Distinctiveness is another thing that we bother over all the time and I sense that from getting ideas from indies and having
discussions with indies it is not always something that they are considering before they are discussing stuff with us. When I
first came here as a commissioner, six or seven years ago, Channel 4 could show almost any history programme and it would
not really matter whether it had a Channel 4 sensibility. History was a new booming genre and you could do all kinds of
things and get 2.5 million or 3 million viewers. History has now become more common on television and distinctiveness in
all our programs has become more important to us. Channel 4 is constantly under public scrutiny; it is a question of why is
Channel 4 there, why do we exist and why do we fund Channel 4? This idea of public service plurality, which gets bandied
about in pages of broadcast and speeches by Mark Thompson and by Andy Duncan, has real meaning at a granular level for
us at Channel 4. It means that we have to make sure that all our programmes are distinctive and stand out for Channel 4 and I
think there are some really obvious ways of doing that that sometimes get overlooked.

Diversity is a really key aspect of distinctiveness and Julia is going to come onto talk about a series she is doing with Lion with
Kwame Kwei-Armah. This in some respects could have been a very traditional straight history series with an Ian Hislop or a

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Specialist Factual Briefing                                                                                         Channel 4 – Events

Tristram Hunt doing it and by making it with Kwame immediately you tease out different layers of the story and you access
different aspects of the story through having a candidate who is not just another white old man. You would be surprised, in
spite of us bothering about this issue of distinctiveness, how much our output is still dominated by white males and I talk about
diversity in the broadest possible sense. More women in our output is really important in addition to more ethnic variety.

The other aspect of distinctiveness is about using our advantage in terms of opinion. If you look at a lot of BBC output it has a
kind of inbuilt neutrality to it and I think it is a bit of a curse when you are watching Simon Reeve or Alice Roberts or
Iain Stewart. I admire all of them; I think their work is really good but ultimately as a viewer, these people are filters and their
neutrality, their lack of opinion is built into the programme. We like programmes that really stand out. We have the real
advantage in being able to use more polemic, more opinion, more provocative points of view; Richard Dawkins,
Robert Beckford, Niall Ferguson, these are voices that really stand out in the culture. We are not just trying to offer a
completely balanced view of the world and that makes our output distinctiveness and is something we need to work on more.
Polemic, shock, outrage, creativity, provocation, these are all things that we do to try and make our ideas more distinctive. It is
really worth keeping on thinking about that.

Pleasure is the third thing that I will mention briefly. All of us, whether we are doing history or science or religion or whatever
programmes, we really do not want to be confined to being the kind of university department or the pointy-headed
department; whether people will want to watch our output, whether people will feel that it is fulfilling some interest or need in
them is really important to us. Offering people something pleasurable is something that I think is distinctive to a lot of our
really successful programmes and that happens in lots of different ways. So without further ado, I am going to hand over to
the commissioning team who will each talk you through their areas. You will first hear from Tanya Shaw to talk about the
broader aspects of Specialist Factual and Julia Harrington to talk about history and David Glover to talk about science.

                              How to take Specialist Factual Forward
                                                          Tanya Shaw
                                           Commissioning Editor, Specialist Factual

I.       Variety of Subjects
The real key to what I want to say today is really that Specialist Factual is not a niche genre. Top Gear, Yellowstone,
Tribal Wives, Amazon, Stephen Fry, they are all Specialist Factual subjects. In the projects that we do, I think we should be
reaching big audiences with a variety of subjects and not just restricting ourselves to history and science. We are really the
department that can do anything that has content and information so it can be archaeology, engineering, business, adventure or

When I try and think about what I want to commission I quite often look at what is working on other channels and I look at
things like Engineering Connections or Britain From Above or The Hottest Place on Earth and I wonder how we get those
big, bold, simple propositions into our schedule. How do we get that same level of scale and ambition into the series that we
commission? It is really worth all of us looking at what is working elsewhere and see how we can take those subjects and
make them work for Channel 4. The BBC are fantastically good at taking very simple propositions in one word, such as
Explore, South Pacific, Yellowstone; they are all really pleasurably, great watches. ITV have gone down the celebrity route so
Martin Clunes, Robbie Coltrane, Joanna Lumley or more recently Stephen Tompkinson going ballooning but what is
Channel 4’s way to travel and explore the world? Where should we be going and who should be taking us on those
journeys? One of the real challenges for us is how we should capture the counter-intuitive, mischievous and controversial
spirit of Channel 4 in the ways that we do explore the world. Where do we want to go and who do we want to take us there?
We all mull over talent all the time; should it be a celebrity, should it not be a celebrity, so it is worth dwelling on that for a bit.

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Specialist Factual Briefing                                                                                         Channel 4 – Events

II.      Talent
Obviously one of our big faces of Specialist Factual is Tony Robinson who is a fantastic communicator and does incredibly
well for us both in Time Team and the other documentary series he does for us. Even last night the Stonehenge Time Team
Special did a very solid 2.2 million and it never dipped below over the whole 90 minutes. It never dipped below 2 million, I
should say. We need more talent; we need more than Tony. We need new faces in the department.

1. Celebrities

I am not opposed to a celebrity taking us on a journey but it has to be the right celebrity. I think the ITV audience will come to
Martin Clunes taking us round Ireland but we need to think a bit more carefully about why a particular person is going to take
us on a journey. In the showreel you saw a clip of Rupert Everett and the Sex Explorer which Julia is going to talk a bit more
about later but I think that is a good example of a lateral casting where the celebrity makes sense of the subject matter he is
engaging with.

2. New Talent

The other thing that we can do with talent which is very exciting is obviously launch new talent. That is a tricky thing because
I know we often go round in circles; we want to launch new talent but are you going to watch new talent because you do not
know who they are?

a. Around the World in 80 Trades

When you match, again, a new talent with a subject which makes sense for them it is possible. Recently I did a series called
Around the World in 80 Trades with a new talent, Conor Woodman, which did not rate quite as highly as I was hoping it
would but it is a very good example of how we can launch new faces onto the channel. The reason we were able to do that
was because it was Conor’s idea. He took a load of his own money, he gave up his job in the city and traded his way around
the world. It was his idea, it was his money and it was his journey and therefore it was a journey that we felt we wanted to go
on and could engage with a new presenter.

b. Alone in the Wild

I am working with another new talent on a new series which is also worth mentioning because it is a series I am excited about
that is coming up. It is called Alone in the Wild and the talent is Ed Wardle. Some of you may know him, but Ed is
traditionally a director/cameraman, normally filming other people doing extraordinary things; but Ed is going to go off and
live in the middle of the Yukon for three months and not see or speak to another human being for the whole time he is there.
As a special treat, even though he is not actually there yet, he did to a technical recce to see if it was possible to film himself so I
am just going to show you a short clip of the recce tape.

[Video presentation]

So what will actually happen in this series is that Ed will not see or speak to another human being but he will leave his rushes
in a pre-arranged spot every week. We will take the rushes and we will edit the rushes whilst he is there and the series is going
to start with him basically presenting live from the Yukon having not spoken to anyone for three months. The reason I am
excited about that and the reason I commissioned it was that it feels bold, it feels experimental and it feels exciting. It also feels
high-risk and it is going to give us all many sleepless nights but that is exciting and that feels like what Channel 4 should be
about. Specialist Factual has always been good at innovating form and format and that is something that this has the potential
to do.

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Specialist Factual Briefing                                                                                      Channel 4 – Events

3. New Formats

Historically we have come up with lots of new and original popular formats from 1900 House to That’ll Teach ‘Em,
Bringing Up Baby, Never Did Me Any Harm and the big question is what are the next titles on that list?

4. Successes on Digital Channels

I have talked a little bit about what is working on mainstream channels but I think it is also worth thinking and looking at what
is working on some of the smaller, digital channels. I look at BBC Three’s Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts and more recently
Blood, Sweat and Takeaways and The World’s Strictest Parents and again I wonder whether there are subjects that we can do
that would give us that same, fresh, modern approach to content. They do well on the digital channels but how do we turn a
niche subject on a small channel into a big primetime Channel 4 television series?

5. Specials
The other thing that I think is worth talking about briefly because we have gaps are specials. I am still looking for some
standout singles, some treats in the schedule. Krakatoa, Kamikaze, Titanic, these are all things we have done in the past that
have done really well for us and of course Jamie Oliver’s Eat To Save Your Life which David did last year. They are real
treats and we need more of those. I have commissioned two for next year but we definitely have gaps for some more. They
could be co-pros or they could be things that we will fully fund, just the sort of must-haves that we want to wholly own.

III. Towards an Increase in Breadth

If you remember one thing about what I have said today, it would be: do not think of Specialist Factual as just being history
and science. Think of it as being a broad spectrum of things. It can be anything with content. It could be archaeology,
business, adventure, travel, exploration and above all, think big and think ambitious.

                                              History on Channel 4
                                                      Julia Harrington
                                               Commissioning Editor, History

I.       Introduction
Thank you all very much for coming this afternoon. It is quite warm in here so I will try not to talk too much hot air. Before I
show you a couple of clips of things that we have in the cutting room at the moment I want to talk for a moment about what
history on Channel 4 is. I arrived at Channel 4 from Channel Five about eight or nine months ago and it is something that I
have been thinking about ever since.

If you sat on your sofa at home and watched reams and reams of Channel 4 every evening, as I am sure you all do, you will
notice there is a lot of Features, there is quite a lot of Fact Ent, there’s Big Brother about to come at us like a juggernaut. What
is the place of history in all of this? What I would say is that history is absolutely core to what we do. History is not, if you
like, a BBC pause in our schedule. It is not a boutique aberration. It is really key and this is why.

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Specialist Factual Briefing                                                                                         Channel 4 – Events

1. Alternative National Stories

I think that what history on Channel 4 can do is give us an alternative version of our national story, of what it is to be British, of
who is British - give an alternative account of what makes us us, if you like, and that is really important. Early next year we
will have four major drama-documentaries which really address this idea of identity.

2. Affirmative

The second thing I think is that History on Channel 4 is affirmative. It is not a knocking shop. It is full of opinion, it is full of
passion, it is full of thought but it’s not snide and it’s not cold. I think that is important. I did as film recently that went out on
the bank holiday weekend called Churchill’s Darkest Decision which was about Churchill’s decision to bomb the French
fleet at Mers-el-Kébir in 1940 to stop it falling into the hands of the Germans. Now that could have been a Churchill
knocking documentary; it could have been a traditional ‘Isn’t Churchill great?’ documentary but in fact what it did was steer a
much more interesting path and turn it into a thriller about the moral ambiguities of that situation. Our history needs to have
emotional and moral intelligence as well as intellectual intelligence, so that is what I want to see.

3. Inspirational

I want the stories that we tell to be inspiring. Channel 4 history can be about how the little people win! as in 1066: The Battle
for Middle Earth. History can show us that things were not always thus, the received ideas of today, the perceived wisdoms
of today, in the past were not the same. If it was not the same in the past it does not have to be the same in the future - and I
think that is really important.

4. A Sense of Purpose

My final point about history on Channel 4 is a sense of purpose. Purpose without being earnest, and I think that is a really
important thing to aim for. So to give things a sense of purpose and meaning and still make it a good watch.

I am going to show a couple of clips of things that are in the cutting room at the moment and then I will talk a bit more about
what I am interested in for 2010.

[Video presentation]

II.      What We Are Looking for
I hope those clips, those works in progress, give you a sense of some of my aspirations for Channel 4 history.

As Ralph said, now is a really good time to be thinking about Specialist Factual and perhaps History in particular. We are
definitely under-commissioned for 2010 so it is something that I would like all your fine minds to be trained on. I don’t want
to stand here and be overly prescriptive and give you some sort of nasty little shopping list but none the less there are some
broad points that I would like you to take away with you that I think could really help you make your ideas register with us
and enable us to make some really good, compelling television together.

1. Make Your Ideas Bigger

The first point is: make it bigger. It is something Ralph has talked about, it is something that Tanya has talked about and
probably David will as well. Make your ideas grander. Be more ambitious, be more bold. For History, think about big
sweeps. I really do not aspire to the niche or the marginal. That is what BBC Four does very well but it is not what we do.
We do things like Starkey’s recent Henry VIII series, Niall Ferguson’s Ascent of Money and Kwame’s On Tour with the

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Specialist Factual Briefing                                                                                         Channel 4 – Events

Queen series. Kwame’s is a four parter about the dismantlement of empire - so you do not need a professor in order to do a
big, inspiring sweep of history.

There might be other ways that you can scale up your ideas. If you have an idea for a single film, a single story, think to
yourself ‘Well, Julia is not going to commission this’, because I almost certainly will not, but what framework does it fit into?
What is the larger picture that that little story sits within, or what is the really exciting idea that underpins it? Can you turn that
into a series? Can you turn that into a 90-minute film? Or is there an amazing stunt at the heart of it? Is there something that
you can put at the centre of your idea that is really compelling, or can you size up the talent that you are thinking of? Who is
much more exciting than this medium range, average, boring person who has been around the block? Who can you bring to
it who is just more interesting? That is point one: make it bigger.

2. Talent

Point two is about authorship and opinion - which is probably in many ways just a fancy way of saying ‘talent’ - but it is really
key. I want to make history more engaged and more active – so I need people to do that with. If you think of the talent we
currently have - if you imagine that I am trying to paint big landscapes here - but that the moment I have Ferguson, I have
Starkey, I have Robinson, I have Ian Hislop from time to time; it is not enough. I need other people to tell the sweeps of
history and to engage in the questions that I want to engage in so think of more people who could feel very Channel 4. .

a. Diversity

We need much more diversity in this line-up. We need more women. We need more ethnic minorities. I am not afraid of
using older people. Who are the faces with interesting experience? What I really do not want to do is have a kind of BBC
line-up of Alice Roberts-type people, all in their early 30s, all white, posh, terribly samey, not expressing their views, not
telling us how they think and how they feel. They give us facts on the BBC but they do not tell us how they think and feel
about them and that is what Channel 4 talent needs to do.

b. Affinity and Relevance

So who would make a good face for Channel 4? Think about people with interesting affinities for the subject matter -
Rupert Everett for instance. I would say that he is an expert in the louche; that is what Rupert does well and he can talk to
anyone, from old ladies in bingo halls to Donatella Versace. That is his particular gift, burrowing around in the louche.
Kwame is an extremely intelligent man, an extremely warm man who enjoys the company of the people who he meets and
that is an important thing for me. He’s also what he terms a ‘child of Empire’, so him exploring what our imperial history
means today makes absolute sense. So think about people. If you were to walk into Waterstones and go to the biographies
and autobiographies section, who is there? Who shifts books, who has got an interesting life, an interesting life story,
experience, opinions and views, who you would want to watch on telly? Who do you want to watch at nine o’clock? Who
do you have some curiosity for and want to spend time with? It is really worth thinking about, perhaps even before thinking
of the right historical territory for them.

3. History in the Present Tense

My third point is about discovering history in the present tense. I think we have done enough of what I would call straight
narrative history, that well-worn combination of a bit of drama-recon, archive, sync and commentary, that often ends up just
spoon-feeding the audience the story. I think that to discover and go on journeys and uncover things in the present tense
instead is just so much more compelling and makes for much more modern, dynamic TV.

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Specialist Factual Briefing                                                                                    Channel 4 – Events

a. Journeys

So how can we achieve this? Journeys are an obvious route; you have watched two examples just now. Kwame’s On Tour
with the Queen is worth talking about for a moment because that was an idea that Lion brought to us, in the context of
something completely different and it was then just a two-line description that in 1953 the Queen and Prince Philip set off on a
nine-month tour of the world and you are thinking ‘That’s quite interesting…. Not heard about that before… I wonder what
that was all about?’ It was called the Coronation tour because she had just been crowned but in fact the purpose of the tour
really was to mark the fact that Empire was crumbling, was being dismantled and indeed many parts of the Empire had
already gone, but the Queen was being sent off on a charm offensive to woo those countries who were seeking or who had
sought their independence in order to keep them on board, keep a relationship with them and so it is a really important
historical moment that comes between the cracks of empire, independence and the Commonwealth and so it seemed to us a
really important story to tell.

b. Show and Tell

So journeys can be great, Rupert Everett’s journey films for us are another example, but there are other ways of doing history
in the present tense. I think that we need, quite simply, more show and tell in what we do. Starkey’s recent series for us, on
Henry VIII, was a great example of that. Starkey is in the archives, he is finding documents, he is finding Henry’s
handwriting, his written comments and that takes us right into the mind of the man. You see David making sense of what he
is looking at and expressing that to us and that is so much more interesting than just a voice of God voiceover.

c. Living History

In the past, Channel 4 has done a lot of living history - 1900 House, That’ll Teach ‘Em, these were really important to
Channel 4 history. We as a channel are not going to go back to living history in that form, not in the way that the BBC has
returned to it with shows like Victorian Farm. We feel that for us it would be going backwards to use that format which
requires voiceover along the lines ‘We took eight people and...’ or ‘For two months they will live in...’. So what I would call
the ‘bubble experiment’ would feel retrograde, but are there any elements of that that we could use in a mix and match, mixed
economy of film making? For instance I have a big 90-minute Armistice day film that is in pre-production at the moment
that is part drama-documentary but also part actuality or extended show and tell, so it will have a really strong present tense
narrative about technology running through it. So can you mix the genres in this way and be less faithful? I think so. I think
audiences are savvy enough for this to work. And there may be many other ways of doing experiential history for us – the key
to it is using present tense experience to illuminate process. Don’t try to get punters to look and feel like people in the past –
that often turns strained and cheesy. Use them to shed light on how things worked back then, how they were done.

4. Events

My fourth point is events. How do we bring what my good friend David Glover here would call the Barnum and Bailey, the
‘roll-up, roll-up’ to history. Time Team some time ago dug up Buckingham Palace as a live event; that was fantastic. What
else can we do? It might be that you can take iconic moments from history, freeze them, have a look at the things that we
normally do in CGI and think, okay, how did that actually happen? Could I make a whole film about that? You might think
‘Are there huge experiments that we can do?’ There are all sorts of things that could really bring a sense of a different
language for history-making and a real sense of ‘Jesus, I must watch that tonight.’

5. Controversy

My fifth and final point is about controversy. In the past we have done films like Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel, we
have done The Great Global Warming Swindle, The Falling Man, these were all brilliant films. I would like more history
that generates what I would call heat and headlines, so please be looking for those, think about what those propositions might

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Specialist Factual Briefing                                                                                       Channel 4 – Events

be. We need a bit more danger in history. What are the boxes that are marked ‘Do Not Open’ whose lids you can lift? What
are the taboos in history? What are the things that we do not like talking about. I think we should look at those.

III. Scale the Ideas Up
So to finish, again I am just going to say: make it bigger. I get so many single history ideas; I am really not going to
commission them. That is the brutal truth, or the reality of modern terrestrial television, that unless it has substantial amounts
of co-pro against it and I think it is a really good story, I am very unlikely to do it. So think about different ways of fashioning
your ideas. I don’t want this to be a depressing message or an onerous one; I really do not. I am aware that some of you in the
audience will think ‘Oh God, scaling up ideas will mean that everything will go to Darlow Smithson.’ It does not. I really
want to work with a wide range of indies, for instance I have got something in development at the moment which is from a
small indy. They have never made a history film for Channel 4 before but they had a really smart idea about talent that I want
to pursue with them, so that happens.

The other thing I know from having been the other side of the fence, which I was until quite recently, is that sometimes as
indies you guys feel that Channel 4 sets the bar so high - it has got to be great content and then it’s ‘where is the innovation?’ -
and it can sometimes feel a question of ‘how high I can be bothered to jump?’ What I would say to you is right now, I do not
have a great flow of history ideas, I really do not and there is lots of opportunity. So what I would like is a dialogue with you
guys where we talk first about content, we talk about great content and then I will help you find the right angle and approach
for us. I will work with you to find the ‘This is what really makes it Channel 4. This is the wild and wacky and extraordinary
approach that no-one has seen before that we are going to take on it.’ I am really prepared to work with you and I would just
like to generate more great thinking on history.

Thank you all very much.

                                                        David Glover
                                                Commissioning Editor, Science

I.       Making Science Noticeable
This time last year I think I told you that I sometimes get in a taxi and they go ‘What do you do for a living?’ and I say ‘I work
at Channel 4’ and they say ‘Oh really? What do you do at Channel 4?’ I say ‘I am head of science’ and they say ‘I didn’t
know there was any science on Channel 4.’ That was a bit of a problem so Ralph and I decided that we would try and make
our science output a bit more noticeable just so it could be seen from afar. That is what I have been thinking about for the last
year and the clips I am going to show you reflect that sort of thinking so if we roll the first clip. This first clip contains scenes
that some viewers may find disturbing.

[Video presentation]

II.      Surgery Live and Controversy
Somebody left the Sunday Express on my desk this morning and they polled their readers. They said ‘Last week we asked
for your opinion on the new Channel 4 programme showing major operations including heart surgery and the removal of a
brain tumour whilst the patient is conscious. We asked ‘Should this sick programme be banned?’’

82% said yes but 18% said this sick programme should not be banned so thank you. Basically, I was quite chuffed with it
because it was kind of exciting, it was live which was really invigorating and I felt it was very Channel 4 and a good thing to

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Specialist Factual Briefing                                                                                        Channel 4 – Events

be part of. It was actually interactive which I did not think I would love but I did, so I went home at night and got on Twitter
and saw people saying what they thought of the programme and it was just exciting having people live phoning in and all that
sort of thing. But that programme is interesting because it is still 10.30 at night or 11.00 at night and it is still that the science
department at Channel 4 has this fantastic legacy from Simon Andre who used to do this job. He created this kind of world of
crazy autopsies and stuff which was amazing and groundbreaking and outrageous and fantastic and I love all that stuff but it
was always 11.00 so one of the questions is: how do you make that more primetime and noticeable? How do you keep that
sensibility but keep it in primetime so the next thing, and we will see if it works because it is a work in progress but again it
contains scenes which some viewers may find strange but it is also hopefully going to work at 9.00.

[Video presentation]

Who knows whether millions of people will want to watch that [laughter] but hopefully they will. The tactic is that we have a
safe seeming presenter in Mark Evans and we hope it is not too gory and we show lots of nice shots of elephants. It is very
Channel 4 because only Channel 4 would do that animal autopsy programme so it is about trying to find ways of keeping that
controversy, keeping that extraordinary visual, keeping that originality stuff but hopefully trying to find ways of engaging
loads of people in it.

III. Blue Chip
Another area and the next clip that I am going to show you in a second is basically the most blue chip of blue chip.
Occasionally we do things which are even more blue chip than the BBC. I am not quite sure why I am allowed to do it; it is
partly to piss off the BBC but I think occasionally Andy Duncan thinks ‘I have got to go to the House of Commons and
persuade them to give us more money’ and they root around and think ‘Thank god we have got some Stephen Hawking
there’ or whatever it is. This next thing is an example of something that we do like to do which is just unbelievably brainy but
hopefully has a sense of scale that these guys have been talking about. The idea is to use all of our science presenter talent at
once, like those Vanity Fair photographs where you get all the young actors of a generation or whatever; so in each
programme having multiple presenters, Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, James Dyson and a few steals from the BBC.
Let us roll one of the people we stole.

[Video presentation]

Without meaning it, it has become ‘Science Presenter Idol’ and in the cutting room you watch all of them and you realise why
he is so amazing. I suppose that is an overview of some of the stuff we are planning to try and get science a bit more noticed
and it is trying to keep those Channel 4 sensibilities, occasionally doing a lot of blue chip stuff.

IV. What is Missing?
I suppose I should talk a bit about the stuff that I am still looking for and the stuff I have not managed to crack at all really. The
most successful science stuff tend not to be from my department so other departments like Features do Embarrassing Bodies
and Sex Education which were huge hit shows and which really connect to everyday people’s lives in a way that a lot of the
stuff I am commissioning does not and I would like to change that. Another department that did it recently, or a while ago,
was that Current Affairs would do a Despatches about Afghanistan and it would get 600,000 viewers and then Iraq would get
800,000 viewers and then suddenly they did What’s in your Sandwich? and it got 3 million viewers out of the blue, but it is
not out of the blue because it is obviously science connecting to people’s lives. Similarly Simon Dickson in documentaries
does those Bodyshock programmes but I have got to try and find the things that connect to people’s lives that I am interested in
and that you are interested in really and I suppose one thought is to try and do those programmes that make a difference. I was
struck by Jade Goody’s death meaning that thousands of young women went to get screened, saving lots of lives. I am just
thinking that television has that power and medicine and science could possible do something like that, the Jamie’s School

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Specialist Factual Briefing                                                                                   Channel 4 – Events

Dinners sort of thing. I am basically trying to connect to everyday life and keeping on doing the stuff we are doing, making it
bigger, noisier, all that sort of thing.

                                               General Overview

                                                         Ralph Lee
                                                 Head of Specialist Factual

Thank you David. I am going to take some questions in a minute but I am aware that we have not given a lot of information
about slots and budgets and all that kind of thing. I am very happy to take questions about all those things.

1. Changing Economics

I think as a general overview, regarding the changing economics of Channel 4 we are very lucky because we are part of the
central peak time public service output of Channel 4, we have to a degree been protected from a lot of the economic downturn
in the year but it has affected us. The way that it has affected us really has been to polarise our output and our approach to
ideas and that means on the one hand, stick with 1066, Genius of Britain, Animal Autopsy, go for big ambitious things that feel
incredibly Channel 4 and that are our dream projects but on the other hand do more co-productions. The Churchill
documentary that Julia pointed out also had the benefit to us of being incredibly cheap and whereas in the past where we
might have commissioned that fully as a secret history, now we are saying that we will do quite a lot of straight history. We
will do big Titanic specials etc but ultimately really if they are not speaking to the core values of Channel 4 and answering the
high bar that we are setting in terms of scale, ambition, innovation and that sort of thing then we will regard them slightly

2. Co-Production

So we are doing more co-production in the department; those can be history, single history, single science documentaries, big
specials, a number of series, Animal Autopsy is co-produced with National Geographic. I was always quite envious of
Engineering Connections, you know the fact that Darlow managed to make a series that was fantastically accessible for
people both sides of the Atlantic and I think that is a real testament. It shows that actually there are subsets of Channel 4 and
Discovery, National Geographic, WNET, NOVA, that you can find that can work for both. So if you find our responses to
things polarising, saying ‘no, we would only be interested in that if it was fantastically cheap’, that is really a result of the
economic situation being tougher. What we did not want to do was just salami slice all our budgets because then we would
end up just not being able to do any of the things that we have shown you and not being able to match the level of ambition
that we have had in the past; so co-production is an increasingly important part of what we do and I think we will do more of

3. Aaqil Ahmed

The other big thing I should bring you up to date on is what we are doing subsequent to Aaqil’s departure recently. We are
desperately sorry that Aaqil has decided to go and join the BBC. He will be a huge loss to us and I think he will be really
sorely missed. His output was really valuable to the channel, not least his recent Christianity series which I thought really
stood out.

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Specialist Factual Briefing                                                                                          Channel 4 – Events

At the moment because Aaqil and Jan’s departures kind of coincide and because Aaqil had a dual role as Head of Religion
but also covering multicultural and because Digital Britain is being announced in a couple of weeks, quite a lot of strategic
decisions of the channel are being held over for a little while and we are not making a decision on what to do regarding
Aaqil’s post and in the interim you should send any religion ideas directly to me. I am looking after the bulk of Aaqil’s
commission; some of them are being looked after by Julia and Tanya as well. The Despatches that he was doing are being
looked after by the Despatches team so if you do have any religion ideas I am very happy to discuss them with you and be the
point of contact for that. As soon as we have got a more permanent solution to Aaqil’s departure we will let you know what it

                                             Questions and Answers
Does anyone have any questions about any of our output that we can give you more detail on or that you would like to know

Why do you think Around the World in 80 Trades did not do as well as we would have liked it to have done?

Ralph Lee
I think it is easy to groan and say that it did not do that well. I think it was a really good series, I think Tigress delivered a really
high quality series and I think Conor was pretty good in it. I thought the premise of it was excellent. Is it a must-watch series?
Does it compare with Tribe? Did it have highs and lows, talked-about TV that you wanted to talk about the next day? Did I
dream about being a global commodities trader when I was a kid? You can unpick these things forever and I do not know
whether you ever get the real answers. In a way, perhaps it was not quite as outstanding as it needed to be to be a hit. It shows
just how difficult it is to grow a new talent on the channel and to make the new ideas that we come up with really work. It just
shows how high a bar there is for getting noticed. We have got no regrets about doing it; I think it was a really good
commission and I think Tigress delivered a good series.

You learn from these things and move on but it will not stop us backing new talent. I think Conor was good; I do not think he
was the next Bruce Parry. In the end, did he have that extra-likeable gene that made him someone you would talk about the
next day? Did he have the brilliant unforgetableness of Sister Wendy or Fred Dibner or the Two Fat Ladies or
Fat Hairy Bikers? Sometimes there is a sort of neutrality. It is one of the things I was saying about diversity earlier.
Sometimes there is a bit of a neutrality to some of the people that we use on TV and they do not stand out enough and perhaps
he suffered from that, I do not know. There are probably lots of different reasons.


I think one of your problems with talent is that you have kind of got nowhere to grow people because in a sense apart from
Time Team you do not have all these reoccurring series. So like the trades show you either start them with a series or you
have got nowhere to put them and if I remember, certainly with Grand Designs it was not getting great numbers and they
could have easily pulled it off after the first series but that would have been a mistake.

Ralph Lee
Yes, it is the same with Time Team in the early years. It became the biggest hit in its eighth or ninth year or something,

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Specialist Factual Briefing                                                                                       Channel 4 – Events

Yes, I think there is problem, god knows I do understand that if a show does not rate then it does not rate but it might be that
you have to, if you believe in talent you have to quietly believe and [defend that you?] agree with that because [inaudible] The
Apprentice was not rated in the first series.

Ralph Lee
I think the lack of nursery slopes in the department on the channel as a whole is a real issue. We do not have the same number
of different outlets and stepping stones and starting points that a big organisation like the BBC with all its channels and radio
channels can do. I think if we really 100% believe in something and it does not rate but we still believe in it equally the next
day then I think we will do as you say Daisy and I think that is why Time Team ,Grand Designs and The Apprentice did last;
it is because people did believe in them and pushed them forward and could see an outcome for it. So I am not saying that if it
does not rate we will not do it again, Conor’s on the scrapheap. If there was something in that series that was really
outstanding, and the Rupert Everett documentary that we did last year did not rate particularly well but boy, was I in a hurry to
do more stuff with him and I think that the Byron documentaries that Julia showed a clip of earlier, if I am really, brutally
honest are they going to get 2.5 million to 3 million? No, probably not but I would think and hope that they have started a line
of work that we can keep doing something bigger with Rupert in the future. I am really hoping that we will do something big
and maybe we will get to that stage because I can see in him something that I could not see in Conor Wood. Your point is
absolutely right, Daisy.

Going back to talent again, are we wasting our time if we have a really big proposal and there are lots of very knowledgeable
people out there that are perhaps not that well known, but they are so fitted, so brilliant at knowing so much about their subject.
If we bring those kind of people forward even though they are not really very well known but they really are the experts in the
field, is that something you are still going to be looking at but do you really want just ‘Come on, let us get someone else in
who are going be in the papers more, give us more of a PR push?’

Ralph Lee
I think that is one of those things which is quite hard to answer in general. I think the best thing to do is if the territory is big
enough and the subject is big enough you should be having that sort of discussion with the commissioning editor and if it is a
subject they are interested in they will be willing to engage in the ‘Is this guy the best person to do it or is he actually the
consultant and we should get someone else to do it?’ But I think it is hard to give a general rule because I think it is going to
apply differently to different projects. Yes, we like expertise and we like the fact that we have got Richard Dawkins, the most
famous scientist in Britain on the channel and we love the fact that we have got Niall Ferguson, one of the noisiest, most
controversial historians on the channel. The truth is they are very hard to replicate. We were saying this at the time the
Starkey series was going out. To get a historian to do what Starkey does is phenomenally difficult and Starkey has been
broadcasting for how long, 35 years? We do not underestimate the challenge of taking the guy that might be the leading
expert in a particular subject and turning him into a presenter; becoming a presenter is very difficult so that is a discussion
which we will be having around ideas that we want to do.

Given Channel 4’s recent diversity pledge will you be looking more favourably upon ideas that are presented to you which
have talent which is more diverse than normal?

Ralph Lee
Definitely. As we said in the briefing, diversity is one of the ways that you can make your ideas more Channel 4 and I think
you can see that in that clip from Kwame. That is a different series with him doing it than it would be if you had your standard
Tristram Hunt character doing it so I would say finding characters who can speak to a mainstream British audience – what we
do not want to do is allow multi-cultural programmes to become late night, narrowly targeted programmes which is what

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Specialist Factual Briefing                                                                                          Channel 4 – Events

they were for some time on Channel 4. We want diversity to be a factor in the mainstream of our output and I think Kwame
is a good example of that. At the moment we are looking for the next turns of the wheel, as it were.

Sorry, what I actually meant was off-screen talent and in a general, not necessarily a multi-cultural context. So if people
present ideas that just happen to be about the Queen but they do not necessarily have a white director, are you going to be
looking more favourably on those companies?

Ralph Lee
It is difficult to say that we are going to favour companies that have diverse talent. I think part of the pledge is that all
companies make an undertaking; all the companies that want to work with Channel 4 make an undertaking to do something
about having greater diversity in the company so in that respect yes, but what we are not going to do is to single out particular
companies. In terms of actual talent, directing and things, it is really difficult and we do want a diverse range of intelligences
and cultural references applying to our programmes but in the end you have always got to make individually the right
decisions for the programmes. I think it would have been great if there were more black directors who were in the frame for
the Kwame series but it is always difficult to get the right people lined up at the right time,

It would be nice to see a disabled presenter presenting something that is not about disability.

Ralph Lee

And that, I know Channel 4 has got [people?] opposed to that. Is it the main recognition [thing?] with presenters with talent
which is obviously an issue for you guys as it is for any channel, tends to push people into [inaudible]. Are you open to the
idea that someone who is disabled has to have [inaudible]? It is a difficult balance to make really, and they should not
[inaudible] disability but at the same time how do you balance that?

Ralph Lee
I do not balance it because no-one is presenting me with any disabled talent that I have got to consider, to be honest. I cannot
remember the last time that that was something that was considered. I would not book someone because they were disabled
unless it was particularly relevant to the subject that they were doing but I would be really open to approaches. It is not
something that comes up to be honest, because not a lot of disabled talent is proposed to us. They have really got to be
appropriate in some way to the subject just in the same sense that everybody else does.

Are there any other questions?

I would like to talk a bit more about co-production because of course for all of us it is becoming a fact of life.

Ralph Lee

And the degree to which [inaudible] way you have been talking when you say ‘Well, there will be a pot of money, nice and
cheap’ but actually co-production is getting more and more sophisticated. The BBC’s Earth Story, they shot it with

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Specialist Factual Briefing                                                                                     Channel 4 – Events

Iain Stewart and then they gave exactly the same set of coordinates to a German host who went round in the same red
cagoule so that the aerial shots [inaudible]. That sort of ingenuity is in co-production more and more and I just wondered,
because, I am quite interested in Catastrophe for instance, because of co-production and how that came about?

Ralph Lee
Yes, well, I think the co-production divides into two parts really. One is where we are a minor player and someone else is
often driving a broadcast and we are putting in enough money to make it happen. The other is, and Animal Autopsy is a great
example, where from the beginning it has been a collaboration with National Geographic and National Geographic
Television has given David Dugan and his team a bigger ability to do programmes of real scale and we have been involved in
the discussion about where our editorial agreement is from the outset.

Catastrophe was an example where that was commissioned as a co-production with Discovery. I felt that the Discovery
version of Catastrophe lacked and we thought ‘Why is this on Channel 4?’ and so we asked Pioneer to include
Tony Robinson and Tony was kind of top and tailing it rather than fully integrated into the show but there is an example of
another series that we are doing with Tony where it has been done with partners who want Tony in it, with the Canadians and
with Discovery UK. Tony has been integrated from the start and everybody is going to have a version with Tony so
co-production is all about negotiation, is it not? So sometimes the negotiation is at a lower level about costs and sometimes it
is at a much more creative level about how we can find the version of this that is going to work for more than one broadcaster.
Does that sort of answer your question Richard? Yes.

I think it is quite interesting to see that there are some really good examples of great British high-rating series like
Engineering Connections that are co-productions. In fact that was not even a co-production. I think that was a
National Geographic commission that was then bought by the BBC. I do not think that BBC viewers felt short-changed by
that so I think there is a prize out there for people who can understand that subset of different broadcaster. The other thing that
is happening is that we are having to be on some productions, not all of them, but we are still funding things well within or
above the slot averages that are published tariffs and a lot of the time then the More 4 rights are part of the deal.

In co-productions we are now having a more flexible approach where if a UK partner wants to come in, for example
Discovery or National Geographic and that helps to bring in the bigger fish, their big brother over the Atlantic and then we are
often prepared to do windowing arrangements with More 4 and NGCI and Discovery which has meant that our position in
co-production has become a lot more advantageous and we are more desirable to co-pro with than we used to be so we are
very up for these kinds of discussions and negotiations, if it gets us better content on screen.

I am aware that I have not really talked about which slot we address as a department because I think it can be slightly
deceptive. In the end nearly all of our discussions are about how we can provide programmes for nine o’clock on Channel 4.
That is the peak time; nine o’clock is the heart and soul of what we do as a team. We do do some programming on a
Saturday early evening; we are not commissioning new shows for Sunday evening in the Time Team slot and we are not
really fully funding new shows for Saturdays. Therefore I would say in terms of the kind of size and shape and form that you
should be pitching for and pitching at: nine o’clock, and mostly series but we are still doing a number of specials every year.

                                               Closing Comments
Ralph Lee

Does anyone else have any outstanding questions? If not we would be very happy to offer you all a drink. I am sure you are
all extremely thirsty after that. Thank you very much for coming and I hope that that has been useful for you, and I hope you
will join us for a drink. Thank you.

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Specialist Factual Briefing                                                                  Channel 4 – Events

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