Contact: Madonna BenjaminRegion: All UK

Title: Commissioning Executive
Genre: Factual, Documentary
Region: All UK

About Channel

Channel 4 is a publicly-owned, commercially-funded public service broadcaster. We do not receive any public funding and have a remit to be innovative, experimental and distinctive. Channel 4 works across television, film and digital media to deliver our public service remit, as outlined in the 2003 Communications Act and most recently the 2010 Digital Economy Act.

Channel 4 was launched on 2nd November 1982 with a unique business model, under the Broadcasting Act 1981. We are funded predominantly by advertising and sponsorship, but unlike other broadcasters such as ITV, Channel 4 is not shareholder owned. Channel 4 is a statutory corporation, independent of Government, and governed by a unitary board made up of executive and non-executive directors, who are responsible for ensuring that Channel 4 fulfils its remit and delivers its financial responsibilities. Non-executive directors are appointed by OFCOM in agreement with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. This system ensures our not-for-profit status; that we are held accountable and that all profit generated by our commercial activity is directly reinvested back into the delivery of our public service remit.

In addition to the main channel, our portfolio includes E4, More4, Film4, 4seven and 4Music, as well as our digital and video-on-demand platform, All 4. Through its film arm Film4, Channel 4 is also a key supporter of British film making talent.

As a publisher-broadcaster, Channel 4 is required to commission UK content from the independent production sector. We are a major investor in the UK's creative economy, working with around 300 creative companies from across the UK every year and investing significantly in training and talent development throughout the industry.

Programme Interests


It is the job of Channel Four to reflect the contemporary world to British television audiences, and one of the most important ways we do this is through our substantial and multi-award winning documentary output.

We commission more than 200 hours of documentaries every year, ranging from major multi-part series like 24 Hours In A & E and First Dates to shorter series and single films.

Looking For

It is given that we always look for warmth and humour in the ideas that we take forward with independent companies, but other things we look for in documentary proposals and discuss at length with independent companies include:

  1. Authenticity. Do the ideas reflect the real world in a way that feels genuine and authentic? (Diary of A Junior Doctor, 999 What’s Your Emergency, Benefit Street)
  2. Freshness. Is there something in the proposal that is genuinely new, says something about society now and tells a story that has not been told before? (Kids on The Edge, Extremely British Muslims, Secret Life of Prisons, Gun Shop)
  3. Innovation. Is there something about the boldness of proposition or the use of technology that is breaking new ground? (The Trial, Hunted, UKIP First 100 Days)
  4. Compelling storytelling. Are we likely to be gripped by the narratives that unfold in the programme? (24 Hours in Custody, Murder Detectives, Supervet, A&E)
  5. Extraordinary and pleasurable access that feels like a privilege to the Channel 4 viewer (A Very British Hotel, The Mormons, Secret Life of the Zoo)

Not every idea ticks all these boxes, but we do expect a Channel 4 Documentaries commission to be distinctive and eye-catching.

Most of our ideas are present tense observational documentaries – whether they are made with self-shooting directors or 100-camera rigged shoots. We are, however, always ready to experiment with more formatted programmes (First Dates, First Dates Hotel, The Job Interview, Hunted) or factual drama (Cyberbully, The People Next Door, The Watchman) or maverick and hybrid ideas (An Immigrant’s Guide, UKIP: The First 100 Days) if there is something in the idea that expresses a documentary curiosity about the world. 

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