EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Channel 4 has put into development a one-off TV movie about the 7/7 London bombings. The docudrama has been given a script order and I hear that Philip Ralph (Doctors, Holby City) is writing the script for the as-yet untitled 2 hour piece for production company Hat Trick Productions. Insiders have admitted to me that a docudrama about a major terrorist attack in the heart of London is a dicey proposition, but add that there have been numerous dramatisations of the 9/11 terror attacks not to mention Seal Team Six’s raid on Osama Bin Laden. Despite the so-called dicey territory of this project, insiders tell me that they’re not concerned and believe a compelling and emotional drama about the events could be produced “as long as the subject matter is approached carefully and with respect.”
The fact that this project has landed a script order at Channel 4 is interesting. While not having dramatised the events of 7/7 before, the broadcaster has previously ordered a drama about the “war on terror.” That project was titled Complicit and was not a docudrama but more of a moral play examining the use of torture and enhanced interrogation techniques on terror suspects and whether such actions can ever be justified. Despite a lot of hype, what has been called “a truly exceptional script” from Guy Hibbert and a cast that included Spooks star David Oyelowo and Arsher Ali, the one-off fell flat with audiences. The TV movie averaged just under 800 000 viewers, more than 50% down on the slot average. It’s hard not to think that the fact that Complicit flopped with viewers will be taken into account when the time comes for Channel 4’s Jay Hunt to make a decision on whether or not to green-light the project.
This is the latest bit of business that indie Hat Trick Productions has racked up in recent months on the drama side. The production company – best known for its comedy output with the likes of Father Ted and Drop The Dead Donkey – has been ramping up its drama output and was recently commissioned by ITV to produce The Suspicions of Mr Whicher II. Other dramas produced by Hat Trick include BBC One’s Case Sensitive and the production company is also developing a medical drama for Sky1 from Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio titled Critical.