Jay Hunt brings The Killing USA and Drugs Live to Channel 4

The former BBC1 controller announces a raft of new commissions across drama, factual and comedy


Channel 4 has acquired the rights to the American remake of The Killing, it was announced today.


The remake is currently getting rave reviews in the States for impeccable cable network AMC, the home of Mad Men, The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. Set in Seattle, it retains the central story elements of a murdered teenage girl, a shifty local politician and a female detective who’s supposed to be leaving her job – but it makes some changes, including the ending…

The purchase comes as part of a wide-ranging series of commissions by chief creative officer Jay Hunt, her first major programming shake-up since joining the network from the BBC in January.

Elsewhere, new factual format Drugs Live is sure to court controversy as it investigates the effect on the human body of illegal substances, while The Food Hospital looks at the extent to which specific diets can be used to treat health problems.

Both series aim to dispel myths by conducting strict clinical tests – in the case of Drugs Live, they’ll be in the headline-grabbing form of volunteers taking Class A drugs, live on TV. “‘I believe Channel 4’s future lies in pieces that take risks,” said Jay Hunt. “Risks on new talent, risks on difficult subject areas, risks with style and execution.”

C4 has also commissioned Black Mirror, a “suspenseful, satirical” comedy drama by Charlie Brooker, writer of E4’s Dead Set and star of Screenwipe and 10 o’Clock Live. The three stand-alone episodes are “audacious ‘what if’ stories” tapping into our unease and paranoia about the technology – from giant plasmas to highly advanced smartphones – that’s suddenly invaded our lives in the past ten years.

A four-part political thriller, Coup, is based on the book A Very British Coup by Chris Mullin. Mullin’s 1982 novel, about a socialist British prime minister whose democratic mandate is undermined by the corporate/right-wing establishment, was previously dramatised on C4 in 1988, with nuclear disarmament and newspaper monopolies the dominant themes – in the new version, the bogeymen are big business and banks. It’s written by Robert Jones (Lennon Naked, Party Animals, Cops).


Finally, C4 has commissioned its first original animated comedy. Happy Families, written by Harry and Jack Williams (Roman’s Empire), is a “quintessentially British satire on suburban family life” drawn by Alex Scarfe, son of Yes Minister cartoonist Gerald.