The BBC is making a documentary about commercial space travel featuring Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space programme and co-produced by his son Sam’s company.
Quest for Space is the working title of the new documentary, which is fronted by Brian Cox and co-produced by Sundog Pictures, the production company run by Sam Branson. Sam Branson, who is chairman of Sundog, is also a friend of Cox.
The BBC has denied suggestions that the commission represents a conflict of interest and insisted that the programme will focus on space exploration and space mining generally and would not be a plug for Branson’s company.
A spokeswoman said that it also promised to profile the work of other bodies including NASA, Space X and Deep Space Industries and Blue Origin – the aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight service founded by Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos.
Richard Branson is understood to have been filmed by the producers and is expected to feature in the programme, which will air either at the end of this year or early next year. Bezos will also feature.
The commission is also said by sources to be a “big deal” for Sundog Pictures, which has been suspended by the BBC for any commissions following its documentary Reggie Yates: Hidden Australia which was on BBC3 at the beginning of this year.
The Corporation is completing an investigation into an alleged breach of editorial standards in a section of the programme, where an Aboriginal wake was allegedly filmed as if it were a party scene. Sundog has been suspended from future commissions until the matter is formally resolved.
The commercial space programme show was commissioned before the suspension which is why it has been allowed to go ahead. But RadioTimes.com understands that co-producers Voltage TV Productions have been given “editorial responsibility for delivery of the programme” because of the suspension.
RadioTimes.com also understands that the BBC is also keeping an eye on this commission generally in order to ensure it is “journalistically rigorous”.