Channel 4 has pledged to commission at least one major drama from a disabled writer this year as the broadcaster sets out how it is fulfilling its remit under its current funding model.
In the wake of writer Jack Thorne’s withering verdict on drama’s track record on disability, delivered in his MacTaggart speech last night, chief content officer Ian Katz detailed his ambition and also leant his support to Thorne’s attempt to force the industry to make working spaces fully accessible.
Katz said the current scrutiny of C4’s funding model, with the government consulting on whether to privatise the broadcaster, was creating debate that will “spur real change” for C4 – but said a sale would “destroy” its essence.
If privately-owned, he said, “C4 would be a very different beast and much that is treasured would likely be lost”.
Head of entertainment Phil Harris said the consultation was “scary but galvanising” his team to find shows that fit its core remit, a feeling echoed by factual head Danny Horan who said the current climate has engendered a “definite reminder of what we stand for and what we should be doing”.
Head of drama Caroline Hollick highlighted Thorne’s upcoming single drama Help, which looks at Covid’s impact on British care homes, as a benchmark C4 show.
“Help is not a sexy pitch,” she said. “It’s a really important piece of programming but we didn’t worry have how it would land internationally. We invest in shows [that indies] can sell later.”
Elsewhere at the festival, C4 nations and regions head Sinead Rocks outlined a mixed ecology approach to returning to work, with staff expected to spend 50% of their time in the office across its London, Leeds, Glasgow and Bristol hubs from next month.