David Olusoga says his indie Uplands Television will step up its mission to be an ‘agent of change’ after Channel 4 extended its support of the company by taking a minority stake.
Uplands is the latest company to benefit from C4’s Indie Growth Scheme, having previously chosen it as one of the 10 BAME-led indies to join its Accelerator Scheme last summer.
That initiative paired Uplands, alongside the likes of Afro-Mic Productions and Lenny Henry’s Douglas Road, with C4 commissioning heads for a programme of bespoke support and development.
Historian, producer and broadcaster Olusoga established Uplands in 2017 with producer Mike Smith (pictured with Olusoga). The pair met at the BBC in Salford and set up shop in Bristol and London, both of which are home to C4 bases.
Uplands specialises in history, with Olusoga-fronted docs The Unwanted and The Forgotten Empire znd Channel 5's One Thousand Years of Slavery, plus C4’s The Unremembered, featuring David Lammy, andBritain’s Forgotten War Heroes, presented by Afua Hirsch.
Delivering the MacTaggart lecture at last year’s Edinburgh Television Festival, Olusoga described how he set up the company to take control of his own career and to model a diverse approach to television production.
“What has made us most proud are not just the programs we have made, but the diverse teams we have assembled to make them - both in front and behind of the camera,” he said at the time.
“At the beginning of every production we ask ourselves what will the team photograph would look like. Will it resemble the country we actually live in and the audiences we actually serve? Like every company, we have much more to do.”
He said the C4 Indie Growth Fund investment would help his mission to make the indie an “agent of change”.
The fund’s head Caroline Murphy said: “Bringing history to life and helping audiences understand and appreciate its role in how our world is shaped today is a rare skill and it will be extremely exciting to see Uplands grow in terms of scale and success.”
Other recipients of the £20m Growth Fund include Voltage TV, Proper Content, Firecrest Films and Yeti. High-end doc producer Lightbox recently left the fund after six years, having more than tripling in size in that time.