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True crime leads C4’s 2020 slate

UK broadcaster Channel 4 has added 12 new shows to its 2020 slate, including a four-part documentary series about the kidnapping of British tourist Joanne Lees and the murder of her partner, Peter Falconio, in the Australian outback in 2001.

Ian Katz

Produced by CJZ, Falconio: An Outback Murder (working title) will explore and reinvestigate the infamous case, particularly the sentencing of Bradley John Murdoch, who was convicted of Falconio’s murder.

Speaking to journalists at a Channel 4 event on Tuesday, director of programmes Ian Katz said the doc “raises profound questions about whether the right man was sent to prison.”

On a similar theme, C4 is launching a feature-length doc about the unsolved case of the death of Stuart Lubbock, whose body was found in a swimming pool at the home of British TV personality Michael Barrymore in 2001.

Produced by Keo Films, Unexplained (wt) features never-seen-before footage, phone call recordings and material relating to the case, according to Katz.

“Last year our widely acclaimed three-part series on [the life and death of British reality star] Jade Goody offered a reminder of how powerful individual human stories can be a window on recent history. In a couple of weeks we’ll be showing another gripping film that meticulously unpicks the still unexplained death of Stuart Lubbock,” Katz said.

Also in the documentary space is Peter the Human Guinea Pig (wt), a one-hour programme following a group of doctors, scientists, engineers and designers as they attempt to transition a man with motor neurone disease into the world’s first human cyborg. Sugar Films produces.

In the natural history genre are Living Wild (wt), an eight-part series from Blast! Films following the lives of wild animals in a Kenyan conservancy, and Walking with Elephants, a three-parter produced by October Films following author and explorer Levison Wood as he treks for 650 miles alongside a herd of elephants on their annual migration across Botswana.

Meanwhile, Kevin McCloud’s Rough Guide to the Future (wt) is a three-part series produced by Boundless in which McCloud takes a light-hearted look at some of the biggest issues facing humanity. Three sceptics – comedians Jon Richardson and Phil Wang and radio host Alice Levine – are sent off around the globe to see if he can help them embrace cutting-edge innovations such as robot butlers and lab-grown meat.

Also venturing across the globe is campaigner and Rio Paralympics presenter Sophie Morgan, who will travel from India to Japan on a Mad Max-style trike in Sophie Morgan: The Longest Route to the Games (wt). The two-parter will be produced by Full Fat TV.

On the subject of Japan, celebrity chef Paul Hollywood will feature in three-part series Paul Hollywood Eats Japan (wt), in which he sets out on a culinary and cultural road trip across the country. North One Television is producing.

The Write Offs (wt), meanwhile, is a two-parter hosted by Sandi Toksvig and produced by Endemol Shine UK’s Shine TV, in which eight illiterate adults are tasked with learning to read and write, while The Segregation Experiment (wt) follows a British school’s programme to explore unconscious racial bias in a class of 11- to 12-year-old pupils. The two-part series is produced by Proper Content.

Finally, Channel 4 has acquired two series from the US: Duncanville and Batwoman. Duncanville is an animated comedy co-created by Amy Poehler, Mike and Julie Scully (The Simpsons) about the life and family of a 15-year-old boy. The 13×30’ series is produced by 20th Century Fox Television, Universal Television and Fox Entertainment and will air on Channel 4 close to the US premiere date this year.

Batwoman will launch on Channel 4’s youth-skewing network E4 later this year following its premiere in the US last year. From Berlanti Productions in association with Warners Bros Television, the series is based on DC characters.

“2020 is shaping up to be a big year for the channel,” Katz said. “This year’s slate is built around our three priorities of noise, scale and fun, and I hope it will make people think and laugh in equal measure.”

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