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Sky Docs marks first year with fresh slate

Sky Documentaries in the UK is marking one year since its launch with a slate of new commissions, including projects on Mother Teresa and the revolutionary once heralded as the UK’s Malcolm X.

Poppy Dixon

Mother Teresa: For the Love of God? (3×60’) is being produced by UK indie Minnow Films in association with Sky Studios, using multiple viewpoints from those who knew her best along with archive footage to tell the story of her life.

The three-parter is directed by Benedict Sanderson and Ziyaad Desai, exec produced by Sophie Leonard and Sophie Jones and produced by Dearbhalie Flynn.

The Three Lives of Michael X (working title) is a 1×90’ feature doc produced by BBC Studios’ Documentary Unit in association with Sky Studios.

The feature doc reveals the untold story of the rise and fall of Michael X– aka Michael De Freitas or Michael Abdul Malik – a man once heralded as the UK’s answer to Malcolm X who was eventually executed in Trinidad and Tobago after been found guilty of murder.

The feature-length documentary directed by James Van der Pool (The Surgeon’s Cut, Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners, Black & British) will provide a chance to re-evaluate this divisive historical figure, a man who lived multiple lives and knew everyone – from Muhammad Ali to Malcom X to John Lennon – but is little known today.

The channel is also expanding its slate of sports documentaries, firstly with Queen of Speed, a 1×90’ feature doc from UK indie Drum Studios

It tells the story of Michèle Mouton’s battle to rise to the top of the male-dominated world of rallying in the 1970s and 80s.

Right to Fight (working title) is another 1×90’ feature doc, produced by All3Media-owned Raw TV in association with Sky Studios, profiling some of the pioneers of women’s boxing through the years.

In true crime, the network has also greenlit The Scream (1×90’), from UK indie Curve Media, which tells the story of the theft of Edvard Munch’s famous painting during the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway. Former professional footballer Pål Enger was the only person ever convicted over the daring heist.

Directed by Jenny Ash (The World’s Biggest Murder Trial, Me & My Penis) and executive produced by Asif Kapadia (Senna, Amy, Diego Maradona), Camilla Lewis and Rob Carey for Curve Media.

Poppy Dixon, Sky’s director of documentaries and factual, said: “In its first year, Sky Documentaries has seen stellar performances for films and series that cement the channel as the home of world-class and diverse real-life stories that span the globe. These five new titles join an incredible slate of content and reflect the scale, quality and ambition of the channel.”

The new shows are currently either in pre-production or production and will air in late 2021 or throughout 2022.

The five new Sky Original commissions join a range of previously announced factual programming.

These include Chernobyl ’86, which takes a forensic look at newly discovered footage from the disaster; Hawking: Can You Hear Me?, a 90-minute feature doc chronicling the life of cosmologist Stephen Hawking; Ghislaine Maxwell: Epstein’s Shadow, a three-hour special on the digraced socialite; and Positive, about Britain’s 40-year struggle with HIV/AIDS.

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