Here comes trouble - C4 at 40

Channel 4 was born different. It has pioneered diverse, experimental and challenging programming since 1982, pushing boundaries in every genre. It has forever been on a mission to make mischief and noise, in the service of saying something important about Britain and the way we live.

Channel 4 is turning 40 in November and to mark this milestone we are planning a series of unscripted shows that speak to its radical, iconoclastic roots. If Channel 4 was created to Give voice to the Unheard, Say the Unsayable, and Show the Unseen, what does that look like today?

We want to answer this with a series of ground breaking shows which only Channel 4 could air. Programmes which connect with our core values, and vividly reflect our purpose in 2022.

How much trouble can we make? How should we be challenging the status quo? Who is a deserving target? What is truly unsayable today? How many feathers can we ruffle?

Who are the Unheard in 2022?

Channel 4 was founded, in part, to provide a voice for minorities. Who is without a voice today? Brexit was a sharp reminder that millions of others in the UK felt they didn’t have a voice.

Who now? Is it older people? Is it a particular political constituency? How can we find out who’s voices we are not hearing without waiting for another national convulsion to tell us?

What is Unsayable in 2022?

We are looking for smart polemics with jaw dropping propositions which challenge assumptions about society. Subjects could range from controversial and counterintuitive arguments about marriage or monogamy, to profound ideas about parenting, or, e.g., debating whether it is ethical for children to be born into the world today.

It is important the Unsayable transcends familiar cancel culture arguments and dares to tackle big questions that do not get asked goes cerebral, asking big questions of the day, such as, Is democracy the best form of government? Should we be a Republic? Or, it could be a radical environmental argument that would be dismissed as beyond the pale?

Who are the radical voices who could author these polemics?

What is Unseen in 2022?

What has never been shown on TV before? What remains taboo? What hasn’t been broadcast Live?

What has been censored in the past and deserves to be aired now?

Is there unseen access we can bring to screen?

We want to mark Channel 4’s 40th birthday with a series of impactful, profoundly controversial and noisy shows which celebrate its unique place in the UK’s content landscape, and reaffirm its role as Troublemaker-in-chief. 

The deadline for ideas submission is Friday 15th April. Ideas will be commissioned by the end of April, for transmission in November 2022.

Given the turnaround, we ask that you concentrate on smart polemics, factual theatre, stunts, and live events.

Please speak to the unscripted genre – Specialist Factual, Current Affairs, Docs, Fact Ent, Entertainment, and Features – which is most appropriate for the idea you are proposing.