Channel 4 has announced a trio of new commissions at the Edinburgh TV festival today, including a new documentary aiming to recreate a historic 18th century sea voyage.
In what is described as a “unique experiment,” 21st-century men will be challenged to replicate the feats of Captain William Bligh and his crew in 1789, when they were rebelled against on their ship the Bounty and cast adrift in a small boat on the Pacific Ocean. However, the crew were able to sail across 4,000 miles of ocean and reach dry land, in one of history’s most remarkable acts of seamanship.
Channel 4’s recreation will see 9 men set on the same voyage in a replica 23ft open boat, complete with similar levels of equipment and provision (as well as the diary Captain Bligh had) to navigate through storms, reefs and mysterious islands. The crew will be a mix of sailors and other professionals like carpenters and GPs, with SAS: Who Dares Wins star Anthony Middleton leading the expedition.
“Mutiny is a hugely bold and ambitious project,” Channel 4 commissioning editor Rob Coldstream said.
“It’s not only an intense survival challenge in its own right, with jaw-drop locations and stunning visuals – it’s also an exciting new way of getting under the skin one of history's great adventure stories in a way that feels genuinely distinctive.”
And it’s not the only new commission set to put a new slant on the past, with Channel 4 also announcing a new 6-part 1990s Northern Ireland-set comedy called Derry Girls which will offer a “warm, funny and honest look at the lives of ordinary people living under the spectre of the Troubles.”
Written by Lisa McGee (Indian Summers, Being Human), the series is set during the Derry ceasefire in 1994 and mines the screenwriter’s own experiences growing up there, through the prism of boy-mad wannabe writer lead character Erin.
"Anything set during the Troubles tends to be a bit grim and bleak, but that just wasn't my experience of Derry as a child and a teenager, it was a joyful place,” McGee said of her new series.
“There were other things going on in Northern Ireland at that time, there were other stories, I'm excited to have the opportunity to tell some of them."
Desiree Akhavan (right) with Lena Dunham in Girls
And if that’s STILL not enough Channel 4 programming for you, the broadcaster also unveiled plans for a new comedy called The Bisexual, which sees New Yorker Leila dating both men and women as she tries to find her feet living in London.
Written by and starring Iranian-American filmmaker Desiree Akhavan (who’s also appeared in HBO comedy Girls and Channel 4’s Flowers), the series will see Leila struggling to adjust as she leaves her uber-competent girlfriend to move into a flatshare with immature British guy Gabe, who functions as her “unlikely wingman” when trying to date men.
''Getting to play in the sandbox with such intelligent collaborators at Sister Pictures and Channel 4 is an absolute dream come true,” Akhavan said.
“They're the perfect partners in crime for a taboo sex comedy. And by that I mean they're all perverts."
The Bisexual is also written by Cecilia Frugiuele, who previously collaborated with Akhavan on her feature film Appropriate Behaviour.