News round-up: BBC adds ‘Bates Motel’ & Steve McQueen docs; Barcroft appointments; Gold’s latest original; Red Arrow bags Britney doc

Bates Motel

BBC adds Bates Motel & Steve McQueen docs

The BBC in the UK has ordered two new documentaries that originated from director Steve McQueen while he was working on the Small Axe anthology.

Black Power, which is being produced for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer, is described as “a searing account of the Black Power movement” while Subnormal will air on BBC One and the broadcaster’s streamer. It examines how black children in the 1960s and 1970s were disproportionately sent to schools for the so-called ‘educationally subnormal’.

Both documentaries feature first-hand interviews with key participants in the events, many of whom are telling their stories for the first time. Black Power is directed by Bafta-nominated George Amponsah (Hard Stop) and Subnormal by Lyttanya Shannon.

McQueen is executive producer on both films through his Lammas Park prodco, alongside James Rogan, Tracey Scoffield and Soleta Rogan. BBC Studios sells globally.

In related news, the BBC has acquired Pscyho prequel Bates Motel, which aired in the US between 2013 and 2017. All five seasons will become available via iPlayer, following the deal with NBCUniversal Global Distribution. The show was produced by Universal Television.

Adam Mudditt

Future’s Barcroft promotes & hires

Future-owned factual firm Barcroft Studios has made two senior promotions and a hire within its production team.

Adam Mudditt, previously head of production, has been named director of production for digital and TV, with a remit that includes oversight of the company’s schedule OTT channel Truly and all external TV and digital commissioning.

Meanwhile, Jon Eastman becomes executive producer and will look after internal commissions and new development for digital. Eastman has been series producer at Barcroft since June 2019.

In addition, Katie Spedding has been appointed as production executive, re-joining the company from Vice Media where she served as production manager. She previously held production manager roles at Barcroft as well as at the BBC.

Framing Britney Spears

Red Arrow to shop Britney doc

Red Arrow Studios International has acquired distribution rights to a feature documentary about pop icon Britney Spears.

Directed by Samantha Stark, the 1 x 75-minute Framing Britney Spears is produced by The New York Times and Red Arrow Studios-owned Left/Right and is set to premiere on FX and Hulu in the US on 5 February.

The film explores her rise to a global phenomenon and eventual downfall, with people close to Spears lawyers tied to her conservatorship now reassess her career as she battles her father in court over who should control her life.

Tim Gerhartz, SVP of global sales at Red Arrow Studios International, said: “This fascinating new documentary feature promises to be a comprehensive look at all sides of Britney Spears’ experience of stratospheric fame throughout her life.”

L-R: Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders

French and Saunders reunite for UKTV special

UKTV has ordered a one-off special for its Gold channel reuniting comedy double-act Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders and due to air later this year.

Produced by Double Yellow Television, French And Saunders: Funny Women (1 x 120-minutes) will see the comedian duo discuss the crucial and unforgettable female contributions to the pantheon of comic history across the globe – from the very first trailblazers, to today’s generation of critically lauded stars.

“Are women funny…? This is the thorny age-old question we have been chewing over since both of us were two years old and to date we still have no definitive answer,” commented French and Saunders. “So in this programme we explore fifty thousand or so irrefutable examples to see if we can draw any blatantly predetermined conclusions…”