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Sky Documentaries announces a slate of new original titles to mark channel’s first anniversary

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Sky today announced five new Sky Original documentaries that reinforce its commitment to provide customers with a destination for premium factual content. The slate of five new documentaries builds on a successful first year for Sky Documentaries since its launch in 2020 and has seen shows including critically acclaimed Sky Originals such as TINA, Bruno v Tyson and Exterminate All the Brutes and acquired documentaries including Framing Britney Spears and McMillion$ attract record-breaking audiences to the channel.

The newly commissioned feature length documentaries and series include an incisive look at the life of Mother Teresa which reveals the extraordinary truth about one of the most recognised yet enigmatic figures in contemporary history, alongside the under-reported story of the rise and fall of Michael X, a revolutionary once heralded as the UK’s answer to Malcom X.

Two powerful stories about women making history in their respective sporting fields include Queen of Speed, which chronicles French rally driver Michèle Mouton’s battle to rise to the top of the male-dominated world of rallying in the 70s and 80s. Right to Fight tells the untold story of several female boxers who pioneered women’s boxing and defied sexism and racism for their place in the ring in 70s New York.

The Scream will unravel one of the most remarkable art heists in recent history which saw Edward Munch’s iconic 1893 painting The Scream stolen during the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway.

Sky’s Director of Documentaries and Factual, Poppy Dixon, said: “In its first year, Sky Documentaries has seen stellar performances for films and series that cement the channel as the home of world-class and diverse real-life stories that span the globe. These five new titles join an incredible slate of content and reflect the scale, quality and ambition of the channel.”

Sky Documentaries is the home of world-class, real life stories from award-winning and emerging film makers, including new Sky Original documentaries, as well as acquisitions from HBO, SHOWTIME® and beyond. With a mix of feature length documentaries and limited series that challenge, provoke and entertain, the channel explores a broad range of topics from sport and real-world controversies through to biographies of some of the world’s most famous and infamous people.

The five new Sky Original commissions join a raft of factual programming coming to Sky Documentaries including a forensic look at newly discovered footage from the Chernobyl disaster in Chernobyl ‘86, a 90-minute feature documentary chronicling the life biography of world-famous cosmologist Stephen Hawking in Hawking: Can You Hear Me? and a definitive and ultimately uplifting story at Britain’s 40-year struggle with HIV/AIDS in Positive.

The new shows are currently either in pre-production or production and will air in late 2021 or throughout 2022.

Show information and credits:

Biographical Documentaries

Mother Teresa: For the Love of God? (3×60”)

Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary produced by Minnow Films in association with Sky Studios. 

Over three episodes, Mother Teresa: For the Love of God? takes viewers on a remarkable ride through the twists and turns of an improbable life, revealing the extraordinary truth about one of the most recognised yet enigmatic, controversial, and complex figures in contemporary history.

Told through the multiple viewpoints from those who knew her best and drawing on archive and personal letters where we hear from Mother Teresa in her own words, this series tells the astonishing story of a latter-day Saint.

Directed by Benedict Sanderson and Ziyaad Desai, Executive Produced by Sophie Leonard and Sophie Jones and Produced by Dearbhalie Flynn.

Mother Teresa: For the Love of God? is a Sky Original documentary produced by Minnow Films in association with Sky Studios and commissioned by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual.

The Three Lives of Michael X w/t (1×90”)

Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary produced by BBC Studios in association with Sky Studios.

TX: October 2021

This is the untold story of the rise and fall of Michael X otherwise known as Michael De Freitas or Michael Abdul Malik – a man once heralded as the UK’s answer to Malcolm X who spent the end of his days on death row, and eventually executed by signed order of the Queen.

The feature length documentary directed by James Van der pool (The Surgeon’s Cut, Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners, Black and British) will provide a chance to re-evaluate this divisive historical figure, a man who lived multiple lives in one lifetime and knew everyone – from Muhammad Ali to William Burroughs, Malcom X to John Lennon – but few today have heard of him.

This intimate portrait of Michael’s life and times will explore a defining period of modern British history. Reflecting all sides of the story – with insider testimony from those who knew him, unseen archive and dramatic reconstruction – the audience will be taken from Michael’s childhood in Trinidad, to the genesis of the British Black Power Movement and the intoxicating days of counterculture and Notting Hill Carnival, before returning to the Caribbean where Michael was tried and convicted of murder.

The Three Lives of Michael X is a Sky Original documentary produced by BBC Studios’ Documentary Unit in association with Sky Studios and commissioned for Sky by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual.

Sports Documentaries

Queen of Speed (1×90”)

Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary produced by Drum Studios in association with Sky Studios

Queen of Speed tells the incredible story of one woman’s battle to rise to the top of the male-dominated world of rallying in the 70s and 80s.

From the roads of Monte Carlo to the dirt races in Africa as well as in America/USA, Michèle Mouton defied the odds as she broke her way into the world of motorsport at a time when rallying was at its fastest and most dangerous. She made history as the first and only woman to win rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship and the last woman to compete in top-level rallying, cementing her reputation as one of the greatest motorsport drivers of all time.

Directed by award-winning Barbie MacLaurin (The Abused, The Drug Trial) and produced by Drum Studios, Queen of Speed will be driven by compelling interviews with Michèle, her co-driver, her family, her teammates and her rivals. Featuring spectacular footage of some of the most dangerous races on earth, as well as previously unseen cinematic archive shot by an embedded cameraman who captured the behind the scenes politics and pressures facing Michèle, this film takes viewers on a white-knuckle ride through this exciting time in sporting history.

Queen of Speed is a Sky Original documentary commissioned by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual. Hayley Reynolds is the Commissioning Editor for Sky.

Right to Fight w/t (1×90”)

Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary produced by RAW in association with Sky Studios

Directed by BAFTA award-winner Georgina Cammalleri and Exec-Produced by Tim Wardle (dir. Three Identical Strangers) comes Right to Fight, the untold story of the pioneers of women’s boxing, who defied sexism and racism for their place in the ring.

New York, 1974. The city is on its knees and nearly bankrupt. Life for women is hard. Domestic violence is deemed a “private matter”, and women can be fired for getting pregnant. Roe vs Wade has legalised abortion across America, but access to it remains highly restricted. Racial prejudice is commonplace.

Against this backdrop, women from all walks of life decide to forge a path into the most macho of sports: boxing. They are mocked and patronized, told that women are too delicate to fight, and their attempts to secure boxing licenses are rejected.  But time and time again, they pick themselves up from the canvas and continue the fight, taking the New York State Athletic Commission to court and igniting a movement across the country that will change the face of boxing forever.

Weaving together rare and previously unseen archive footage, intimate interviews with the key fighters behind the campaign, managers, trainers, judges and spectators, and contemporary verité filmmaking, this cinematic documentary takes viewers ringside to one of the greatest fights never told.  Powerful, moving and dramatic, this is the story of how a small group of maverick pioneers overcome the odds to become the first women issued with professional boxing licenses.

Right to Fight is a Sky Original documentary commissioned by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual.

Crime Caper Documentaries

The Scream (1×90”)

Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary produced by Curve Media.

This is the remarkable story of the theft of one of the most iconic paintings in history, Edward Munch’s The Scream. Stolen during the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway, it was an outrageously bold art heist that triggered a thrilling cat-and-mouse chase, involving the Norwegian authorities, the global media and Scotland Yard’s specialist Art Squad.

Only one man was ever convicted of the crime – former professional footballer Pål Enger. Why did he do it and what really happened? Different people involved in the case have different versions of the truth. Was Pål the true mastermind? Was his motive money, fame or an obsession that’s haunted him since he first saw the painting as a child on a school trip? Brilliantly witty and mischievous, it’s an extraordinary Scandi-noir psychological crime caper, Executive Produced by Oscar-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia.

Directed by Jenny Ash (The World’s Biggest Murder Trial, Me and My Penis) and Executive Produced by Asif Kapadia (Senna, Amy, Diego Maradona), Camilla Lewis and Rob Carey for Curve Media.

The Scream is a Sky Original documentary commissioned by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual.

Other upcoming titles

These five new Sky Original commissions join a raft of factual programming coming to Sky Documentaries including a forensic look at newly discovered footage from the Chernobyl disaster in Chernobyl ‘86, a 90-minute feature documentary chronicling the life of world-famous cosmologist Stephen Hawking in Hawking: Can You Hear Me?, a three-hour special investigating the powerful, connected Ghislaine Maxwell in Ghislaine Maxwell: Epstein’s Shadow and a definitive and ultimately uplifting story at Britain’s 40-year struggle with HIV/AIDS in Positive.

Chernobyl ‘86 (1×90”)
Directed by Emmy Award winner James Jones, Chernobyl ’86 tells the story of Chernobyl through newly discovered archive footage and original interviews with those who were there.

For thirty-five years the story of what happened in April 1986, when the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant melted down, has enthralled and horrified. Radio programmes and scripted dramas have all told their version of events and it’s clear an enduring fascination exists for the human tragedy and broader significance of this nuclear disaster. But there has not been a documentary that tells the full true story of this cataclysmic, world-changing event in such remarkable close-up detail – until now. The extraordinary archive was shot at great risk in the hours, days, weeks and months after the accident by a handful of cameramen positioned inside of the plant. These cameramen lived side by side with the ‘liquidators’ who went to incredible and often fatal lengths to try to prevent another explosion. The reality of their bravery and sacrifice is more harrowing than any drama can portray.

Chernobyl ’86 is produced by Top Hat in association with Sky Studios.

The Sky Original documentary has been commissioned by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual.

Positive (3×60”)

Produced by the award-winning team at Arrow Pictures and directed by Grace Chapman, Positive marks Britain’s 40-year struggle with HIV/AIDS. Told by the key players who confronted this terrifying disease, Positive is the definitive and ultimately uplifting story of the disease that changed Britain.

Across three episodes, Positive will tell the story of the arrival of HIV/AIDS in Britain through interviews with some of the earliest HIV patients and real-life heroes, including healthcare workers and activists on the front line, working tirelessly to conquer the disease. It also includes brilliant and rarely seen archival footage. The story of HIV/AIDS permeates key moments in the recent history of our country – from the turbulence of the miners’ strike to the long battle for same sex marriage. Through Positive, audiences will witness the making of modern Britain.

John Smithson is the Creative Director for Arrow Pictures.

The Sky Original documentary has been commissioned by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual.

Hawking: Can You Hear Me? (1×90”)

Hawking: Can You Hear Me? is a new 90-minute feature documentary about the life of Professor Stephen Hawking. The film produced by multi-Bafta winning Atlantic Productions, explores the remarkable human story of the man who became one of the most iconic physicists of the 20th Century. It draws on private family archive – footage and stills – and includes interviews with his family, friends and colleagues.

Hawking: Can You Hear Me? is produced by Atlantic Productions in association with Sky Studios.

The Sky Original documentary has been commissioned by Zai Bennett, Managing Director of Content at Sky UK & Ireland, and Jamie Morris, Director of Programme Strategy.

Ghislaine Maxwell: Epstein’s Shadow (3×60”)

The three-part documentary investigates the powerful, connected, and mysterious Ghislaine Maxwell, who was once the heiress to the Maxwell fortune but whose life is rocked by a series of scandals and accusations when she meets Jeffrey Epstein, the serial sex offender. The series will untangle the complicated story of power, sex, and money, leading to Ghislaine Maxwell’s arrest and pointing to her upcoming trial.

Ghislaine Maxwell: Epstein’s Shadow is produced by Blue Ant Studios, in collaboration with Sky UK and Peacock.

The Sky Original documentary has been commissioned for Sky Documentaries by Zai Bennett, Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual and negotiated by Jack Oliver, Head of Co-Productions, Sky Entertainment.