Wonder featured in newly announced BBC science programmes

BBC announces ambitious range of new science titles

First published in BBC Media Centre on 5th July 2019

Filmed over the course of two years, Living With Dementia (w/t) will be unique for television, taking a longitudinal look at the illness. The length of filming will allow for the exploration of everyday life with dementia in all its complexities, and will allow us work with people with dementia and their families to track changes, subtle or significant, over a longer period of time.

The series will follow up to six people with dementia at different stages of the condition, to capture a powerfully candid insight into what it is like for them and the people around them. It will explore the complexity of this life-changing illness, how it can vary from day to day and how small shifts in the brain can have an unpredictable impact on people.

Contributors will be opening up their lives, allowing the series to follow the major events, but also the small, everyday moments that show how each person makes sense of their condition. What does it mean to deal with the shifting sands of a changing brain? How do identities and relationships change as dementia progresses? Life doesn't end as dementia begins and this series will chart the ups and downs of each person's journey.

Living With Dementia (w/t, 2x60') for BBC Two, is made by Wonder. It was commissioned by Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual and Natural History and Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two. The Commissioning Editor is Abigail Priddle.

Katie Brewer
BBC3’s Hometown — an unflinching look at the faultlines of a Muslim community

BBC3’s Hometown — an unflinching look at the faultlines of a Muslim community

First published in The FT on 14th June 2019

Mobeen Azhar’s previous documentary for the BBC took as its subject the continuing ire caused by Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses 30 years after its publication. The explosive Hometown (BBC1, Wednesday 10.40pm) makes the Rushdie issue look like a spat. Travelling to Huddersfield in West Yorkshire to write a piece about the shooting by police of a young Muslim father, Yassar Yaqub, Azhar quickly uncovers faultlines of secrecy and self-deception running through what he describes throughout as “my community” — Huddersfield’s Pakistani Muslims.

“This was an assassination,” Yaqub’s father insists, shedding what he movingly describes as “tears of love”. But while Yaqub’s affluent family mourn a beloved son and father and affirm his blameless character, that’s not what Azhar’s hearing on the streets, as he quickly picks up troubling details the family refuses to acknowledge. Yaqub’s Facebook profile tells the conflicting story of a “Team Soldier”, posing with a Lamborghini. As the picture grows ever murkier, Azhar feels torn: “If I criticise the community, then I feed into far-right narratives.” Still, he maintains, “that doesn’t mean we can’t ask difficult questions.”

Azhar begins each episode with brief montages of his early youth, showing his attempts to dance, grow a proper moustache and develop his fashion sense. “I love it here,” he announces, driving through Huddersfield’s lively streets set amid the brooding grandeur of the moors. With mounting shock, he realises just how much the place has changed for the worse in the 20 years since he left. Violent crime is endemic; push-pins in a map showing gun-related incidents quickly crowd out the street plan. There’s even been “a stabbing in my old road”, and a resigned young white boy observes that “stuff like this happens every day. It’s just how it is in Huddersfield, sadly.”

So what’s gone awry? Everything leads inexorably back to the drug trade, and Azhar, with his compassion, ease with interviewees, and insider status, penetrates deep, meeting heavily muffled dealers in so- called “trap houses” and piecing together supply chains. Azhar seeks to determine to what extent Yaqub is implicated, whether as minor player, “plastic gangster” or even kingpin. He’s staggered to discover that Asians are disproportionately involved in drug dealing when, as an interviewee observes, “If you’re Muslim, it’s haram, innit?” — forbidden by Islamic law. One dealer’s contorted interpretation of a “hadith”, or saying of the Prophet, shocks Azhar with its chilling cynicism.

Seeking to untangle the conundrum of rampant crime in a small, family-orientated community where everyone knows each other and everyone pays lip service at least to an ethical faith, Azhar pinpoints the culture’s rigid view of masculinity as a potential flaw. “In a lot of Pakistani families, the sons are not asked questions.” In contrast, Azhar’s willingness to pursue and confront the difficult truth is admirable.


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Katie Brewer
Deadstock: Ultimate Resellers featured as this week's best home entertainment

Deadstock: Ultimate Resellers

First published in The Guardian Guide on 31st May 2019

Deadstock – the reselling of apparel that has been discontinued – is a booming industry these days, and this BBC Three series sees wannabe resellers searching for hidden gems in warehouses and charity shops. Think of it as a millennial Bargain Hunt with trainers and Pokémon cards in place of knackered furniture.

Katie Brewer
BBC3 turns to fitness and antiques

Banijay indie Wonder wins double short-form order

First published in Broadcast on 3rd May 2019

An inspiring fitness series and an examination of the second-hand sales market comprise a duo of BBC3 short-form fact-ent commissions.

The Fiona Campbell-led channel has ordered Work It and Deadstock, both 4 x 15-minutes, from Banijay-backed indie Wonder, which has just been rebranded from 7 Wonder.

In the former series, three inspiring fitness instructors who have overcome challenges will work in a gym that welcomes all shapes, sizes and physical abilities. The aim is to help people learn to both love exercise and become less body-conscious.

In Deadstock, two savvy second-hand resellers will set up a warehouse and offer free authentications of strange items, telling the stories of how people came to love the unusual articles, which include Pokémon cards and rare designer bum bags.

Both series were ordered by BBC3 commissioning editor Nasfim Haque and are being exec-produced by Sarah Trigg.

Banijay Rights will distribute globally.

Trigg said the series would bring “fresh new talent to BBC3 via fact-ent formats”.

“Both shows mix entertainment with fun, fascinating and often moving stories from young people, on a platform that speaks directly to them,” she added.

Katie Brewer
Walks of Life now on BBC1 Sunday's at 11:30AM

Mehreen Baig and JB Gill present a series of walks exploring attitudes to religion, belief and our relationship to the landscape

First published in The Sunday Times on 17th March 2019

Celebrating the joy, wisdom and beauty to be found in Britain’s sacred spaces and its people, Mehreen Baig and JB Gill present a series of walks exploring attitudes to religion, belief and our relationship to the landscape. Breathtaking views are a given, peace and spiritual fulfilment is an aim.

Katie Brewer
BBC2 enjoys big numbers for Billy Connolly

Billy Connolly: Made in Scotland achieved
2.2m (11.7%).

First published in Broadcast on 2nd January 2019

Billy Connolly: Made in Scotland (BBC2) 9pm- 10pm, 28 December 2.2m (11.7%). A celebration of the Scottish comedian proved the biggest draw of BBC2’s trio of celebrity profiles between Christmas and New Year.

Katie Brewer
7Wonder Nominated - Broadcast Awards Shortlist 2019

Best Specialist Factual Programme Transplant - A Chance to Live
7Wonder Productions for BBC Two Nominated

First published in Broadcast on 21st November 2018

Ceremony to be held at The Grosvenor Hotel in London on 6 February 2019

Best Specialist Factual Programme shortlist:

Basquiat: Rage to Riches
BBC Studios for BBC Two

Blue Planet II
BBC Studios for BBC One

The Football Club: Artist in Residence
Storyvault Films for Channel 4

Grayson Perry: Rites of Passage
Swan Films for Channel 4

Heart Transplant - A Chance to Live
7Wonder Productions for BBC Two

My Dad, the Peace Deal and Me
Dragonfly Film & Television Productions for BBC One

Katie Brewer
Sky 1 orders Micky Flanagan Christmas show

Comedian to front 7Wonder’s one-off special of Thinking Aloud

First published in Broadcast on 12th November 2018

Sky 1 has commissioned a one-off Christmas comedy special that reveals stand-up Micky Flanagan’s feelings about the festive season.

The 60-minute show Micky Flanagan’s Christmas is a seasonal special of Flanagan’s Sky 1 show Thinking Aloud.

Banijay Group’s 7Wonder and Flanagan’s Double Busy are the co-producers and Banijay Rights will shop the show internationally.

Flanagan will explore themes such as why so many people get divorced around the Christmas period, what a three-bird roast is and why Brits panic to get new sofas in time for the festive season.

“There is simply no one better qualified to talk about what makes a very British Christmas than Micky Flanagan,” said 7Wonder executive producer Mike Reilly. “Expect the most unexpected and hilarious points of view on this wonderful time of the year.”

Reilly is executive producer along with Christian Knowles from Double Busy and Shirley Jones, the commissioning editor at Sky 1 who ordered the programme.

Katie Brewer