U.K.’s Channel 4 Readies Fast-Turnaround Slate of Coronavirus Programs

Channel 4 Studios in LondonChannel 4
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U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 has ordered a slate of fast-turnaround factual and current affairs programs about the coronavirus pandemic.

The programs investigate the human stories of those on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the scientists and experts racing to tackle it.

“N.H.S. Heroes” is an hour-long, self-filmed documentary following a small group of frontline staff in the U.K.’s National Health Service as they record their daily lives battling the virus. The documentary is produced by indie Story Films.

The director of acclaimed factual series “Prison,” Paddy Wivell, will spend the next few months in lockdown documenting the impact of the crisis on his own neighbourhood for “Corona Street,” a Five Mile Films-produced documentary that will capture how self-isolation and social distancing is affecting communities.

Later this month, Channel 4 will air a special discussion show, “Pandemic: Can science beat Coronavirus?,” produced by indie Voltage, in which leading scientists from around the world debate the origin of the virus, how it should be tackled and how it will affect people’s lives for months to come.

Finally, “What did South Korea get right?” is a one-off film from Quicksilver looking at the country’s approach to mass testing and contact tracing in order to avoid a U.K. and U.S.-style lockdown.

The new commissions come a week after C4 unveiled a slate of programs to entertain viewers stuck at home during the coronavirus crisis, under the “Lockdown Academy” strand. These included shows from talent including artist Grayson Perry and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who is set to return for another week of “Keep Cooking and Carry On.”

Jamie Oliver’s cooking-in-lockdown program has been sold by global distributor Fremantle into Ten Network Australia, Canada’s CTV Drama Channel and CTV Life Channel, TVNZ New Zealand, Manoto TV MENA and Fox Network Group Middle East, among other international channels.

Channel 4 director of programs Ian Katz said: “Reflecting the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and helping our viewers through it is one of the biggest challenges public service broadcasters have ever faced.

“These challenges are particularly acute for commercial broadcasters who are experiencing huge disruption to their revenues, but we believe it is vital to keep serving our audiences with shows that help them both understand and withstand the most severe global crisis of the modern era.”